Basketball Big Men Plan Visits to Auburn

An Auburn University basketball recruiting report is featured.

Tarzana, Calif.--An athletic seven-footer from Africa who plays prep school basketball in California is scheduled for a recruiting visit to Auburn this weekend.

Ibrahima Thomas of Stoneridge Prep will make his fifth and final official visit to check out the Tigers.

Stoneridge's Mike Mahoney says he believes the big man has narrowed his choice to three schools--Auburn, Oklahoma State and Rutgers.

"He has visited those colleges along with Ball State, where he knows one of the coaches, and Fresno State, where visited last weekend."

Auburn is also expected to bring in another big man for an official visit this weekend--6-10 Joseph Katuka, a power forward from Montvedre Academy in Florida. He has offers from St. Joseph's, Florida State and SMU.

Joseph Katuka

The Tigers already have one commitment on board for the early signing period--6-9, 235 forward Tyrell Lynch from Niagara Falls, N.Y., who is playing prep school ball at Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina.

Stoneridge's Mahoney says he believes that Auburn is seriously in the mix with Thomas, who is from Dakar, Senegal, and is from the same country as former Tiger star Mamadou N'Diaye. Like N'Diaye, he is a good athlete who is expected to blossom in college as he gains experience against high level competition.

"Auburn is definitely one of the programs Ibrahima is considering," Mahoney points out. "He is very interested in the Southeastern Conference. The visit to Auburn is his last one and he plans to make a decision and sign on the 15th." That is the final day of the week long November signing period.

Off the court, Thomas is a quality individual, Mahoney says. "He is just a terrific kid. He has a big smile and a very engaging personality. It says a lot about what type of person he is and how committed he is to basketball to leave his country for two years and come to Stoneridge and join our program where he would have a chance to develop his skills."

At the California school, he plays on a very strong team that is loaded with college prospects, including seven-foot center Mamadou Diarra, a player who is expected to sign in the spring who is also being recruited by Auburn.

"We play a 35-game schedule and play teams from across the country," Mahoney says. "We play teams from Texas and go all the way to the East Coast to find the best competition."

Ibrahima Thomas

Thomas averaged 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a junior. His top performance came against Philadelphia Lutheran when he scored 19 points while making 9-12 field goals.

In style of play, Thomas is comfortable playing with his face to the basket and Mahoney says that in his opinion the high school senior has some of the qualities of NBA star Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

On the court at Stoneridge, Thomas is surrounded by other college-bound prospects and came off the bench as a junior. "Because we have three seven-footers, we are able to play him at small forward to take advantage of his ball-handling skills," Mahoney says. "He is really a point forward. He can really dribble and shoot the ball and with his size he can take guys who are six-foot-five and six-foot-seven down low and post them up."

Thomas scored 25 points and hit five three-pointers in the championship of a tournament game this season. "He is an excellent shooter," Mahoney says.

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