Yakwe traveling steady incline

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Our Savior's basketball program happens to feature a top-10 talent in Cheick Diallo, but Kassoum Yakwe has carved out his own identity for a strong squad.

Though Kassoum Yakwe is only the second-best native of Mali who suits up for Our Savior — Diallo being the other — he holds high-major talent of his own.

A strong 6-7 utility forward, Yakwe boasts explosive athleticism and the frame to become a physical force in college. He accounted for a modest six points and seven rebounds in Our Savior's victory over Westtown, but his ultimate promise lies in the hope that he's able to raise his skill level to match his natural gifts.

He hasn't been entirely fortunate over the past year but is making up for lost time this season.

"Kassoum was hurt last year and only played in 11 games," said Our Savior assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch. "Then he had an up and down spring playing behind some guys, but he has been strong and athletic for us (this season)."

Yakwe is something of a 'tweener offensively, and thus the goal for him over the next several months must be to add scoring polish. He certainly can take the ball where he wants to take it, but developing an identity within an offense looms as a priority.

Still, it's easy to understand why high-major colleges already like him.

"I'd say he's a hybrid forward," Jaklitsch said. "He's just a superb athlete."

Given his size, explosiveness and strength, defense may become Yakwe's calling card. He's tall and strong enough to defend many posts, and if he can't guard some wings, he'll at least be excellent and covering pick and roll and closing out on shooters. Matched with an aggressive, no-nonsense mentality, he might even develop into a defensive specialist.

According to Jaklitsch, Yakwe is receiving interest from St. John's, Villanova, New Mexico, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Manhattan, Hofstra, VCU and others. Which schools offer and when remains to be seen, but already — despite missing a lot of time over the past 12 months — he has placed himself on the radar.

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