Elite Prospect Drawing Raves
Blairstown (NJ) Blair Academy is going to be a force in the state and on the national scene for the next few seasons. Led by elite juniors Charlie Villanueva and Luol Deng, Joe Mantegna's bunch has size and talent. Villanueva's been on the national radar longer, but Deng is attracting big-time attention following a terrific Nike Camp performance.
Deng, a 6-7 forward who can swing back and forth from the wing to the power forward role, is originally from Sudan. He lived in London before finding a new home in New Jersey.
If the last name sounds familiar, that's because college basketball aficionados have heard it before. Luol is the younger brother of Joe Deng (aka Ajou Ajou Deng) and his cousin is Deng Gai, a hooper at Fairfield. His sister plays basketball at Maryland.
It looks as if Luol's star will burn brighter than them all. During the fall period, according to Mantegna, dozens of coaches came by. Mike Krzyzewski, Matt Doherty, Jay Wright, Jim Boeheim and Gary Waters were among the head coaches who came out to see him.
Most found out about Deng after he displayed some outstanding skills in Indianapolis. First of all, he's a terrific athlete. But, he's not just athletic. His skill level allows him to make perimeter shots, drive with presence and he's a good rebounder. Add it all up and you have one of the finest talents in the class.
Mantegna is quick to praise Deng as a player and person. "I couldn't ask him to do anymore than he's doing. He has an ungodly work ethic and is a tremendous kid. I don't know what more I could ask one kid to do. He's a better kid than he is basketball player."
Last year as a sophomore, Deng hit up Cal-bound forward Julian Sensley for a triple-double. He averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds. "He's so long that he plays about 6-10," Mantegna said.