Overseas Star Sets Sights on Three Schools

After picking up interest from a host of high major schools, Lauri Markkanen, a 6-foot-11 post player from Finland, has cut his list of schools to three and is planning visits.

Finnish star Lauri Markkanen drew rave review following a strong performance at the NBA’s Basketball without Borders in February.

At that time, Markkanen had received initial interest from the likes of Texas A&M, St. John’s, North Carolina, Utah, Duke and others.

“It really kind of heated up last fall and then even more when Lauri was in New York City,” Helsinki Basketball Academy coach Hanno Möttölä told Scout. “There’s been a lot of drive-bys from a lot of schools. There’s been a lot phone calls, but there’s a handful of serious ones.”

After sifting through all the interested parties, Markkannen narrowed his list of schools to three – North Carolina, Arizona and Utah.

“He’s going to visit North Carolina, Utah and Arizona,” Möttölä said. “That’s the three schools that he feels most comfortable and the three schools that have offered him.”

“Coach Williams and coach [Sean] Miller offered him over the phone,” he added. “Coach Krystkowiak was here during the spring period. He feels comfortable. He and his dad are going to make the visits. They are scheduled for the first two weeks of October.”

The exact dates for the visits haven’t been finalized.

“We haven’t locked them up yet,” Möttölä said. “The flights haven’t been booked, but we told the school that it will be the second week of October, maybe the 9th and 10th. We just started kind of hammering down the dates a few days ago.”

Prior to the college visits, the schools are planning in-home visits with Markkanen.

“Coach Williams is planning on coming here in September,” he said. “I know Utah is sending one or two coaches to Greece and I think Arizona is contemplating either going to Greece (European Championships) or coming here in September.”

Markkanen has a connection to Williams, as his father -- Pekka Markkanen -- played for him at Kansas during the 1989-1990 season. Will that factor in the recruitment?

“Lauri needs to be comfortable with the coach,” Möttölä said. “I think it’s helped to build the relationship but at the end of the day it was a long time ago that his dad has played for him. Things have changed. Lauri is a level-headed kid. He’s not looking for the rah rah and fireworks. He wants to see the real deal of all the programs.”

Arizona and Miller’s interest in Markkanen has picked up a great deal over the past few months. Möttölä says the draw to Arizona is how they utilize their bigs and the success Miller has had as a coach.

“I think their program speaks for itself,” Möttölä said. “For me what comes to mind is mobile big guys that run up and down the court. They have skilled guys. Lauri is that kind of person and that kind of guy.”

“Obviously coach Miller is very successful and their program is very successful,” he added. “What’s great about these three schools is they have a great need for a big guy.”

A four-star prospect, Markkanen is currently looking to sign during the early period.

“I think right now he’s looking at the November signing period,” Möttölä told Scout. “He would take visits in early October and that gives him a month to collect his thoughts and see what he likes and doesn’t like.”

Markkanen will join Finland’s U18 tomorrow to begin preparation for the U18 European Championships, which tip at the end of July.

In 2013, Markkanen played in Division B of the European Championships and averaged 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds Last year, playing in the U18 European-B Championships, Markannen went for 9.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

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