They say Latin is a dead tongue, but Khadeem Lattin's legs are full of life. From the beginning, he earmarked himself as one of the most explosive frontcourt prospects in the Class of 2014.
But his story hardly followed a conventional path. He impressed numerous high-major college coaches as an underclassman back in 2011, but following that summer he departed for Spain's Canarias Basketball Academy.
Spain? The European country certainly has earned justified acclaim for its youth tennis program, but an American basketball player leaving the United States for Spain — even to a respected academy such as Canarias — was very difficult to countenance.
Lattin disappeared somewhat from the grassroots consciousness until his return to America in the 2012 spring. By summer, however, he had drawn serious interest from Georgetown, Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M.
And that brings us to this past spring and summer. Lattin toured with the loaded Houston Hoops on the EYBL circuit, and thus he received more exposure than he ever could have expected. Recruiting dynamics changed at various schools while he continued to mull formulating a serious list, but by fall he had begun to focus on Oklahoma, Texas and USC.
After visits and further deliberation, Lattin ultimately selected the Sooners over their rival Longhorns. He projects as an early contributor at OU.
With explosive leaping ability and no fear, Lattin is a slammer and shot-swatter supreme. He elevates quickly and takes a very aggressive approach to interior action, whether he's on offense or defense.
For perspective, on a team surrounded by blue-chip wings Justin Jackson, Kelly Oubre and Justise Winslow, it was Lattin who frequently stood out most in terms of sheer athleticism. He's an outstanding finisher for that reason, and he's an ever-present weapon as a lob recipient and tip-dunk artist.
Meanwhile, he makes his presence felt as the kind of shotblocker who doesn't keep the ball in play, preferring to embarrass his opponent instead by smacking it out of bounds. He'll learn to stop doing that over time, but coaches do love the intimidating intent.
As a scorer, Lattin has evolved into a capable face-up player from short ranges. He doesn't dazzle with his dribbling or jump shooting, but no longer is he entirely rudimentary, either. He also has gained weight gradually and is up to 200 pounds, which while still too thin no longer makes him anemic.
Though stronger, he still has a long way to go at 6-9, 200. Because he's a full-time interior player, in the Big 12 Lattin won't be able to away with such a thin physique. He must add muscle while maintaining his athleticism and flexibility, and he needs to do so quickly.
He also must improve from a skills perspective. He'll never be a power player at his size, but he must develop some offense both with his back to the basket and moving out toward the foul line. He has made significant improvements in that regard, which is encouraging, but he still has a long journey ahead of him to become a complete player.
Lattin faces immense weight limitations as he prepares for Norman, but the Sooners may find it impossible to keep him off the court due to his raw physical qualities. If he's able to merely hold his ground defensively, his knack for finishing in exciting fashion and shotblocking should enable him to enjoy immediate success.
Thinking long-term, he must develop into a true face-up big man, a process that's likely to extend past his college career.