Who In The World Is John Riek?
At the LeBron James U.S. Skills Academy, "King James" got on the floor and played with the campers. For a stretch there were two pros on the court at the same time that we knew of: LeBron and John.
The Sudanese center with a ridiculous wingspan and reach, took the camp by storm. We knew he was a player when Greg Monroe decided to set the tone against him the first play of the game. By the time Riek and Monroe matched up, the word had spread to the campers that Riek was kicking everyone's tail. Monroe was determined not to get posterized. By our count, Riek swatted three Monroe shots.
Once it was established that Riek was likely the best long term prospect at the camp, the scramble began and questions needed answering. Many of the questions couldn't be answered in Akron but we've come across reliable information about the 7-foot-2 warrior.
For starters, we'll address his school situation. Our information is that he graduated high school in Ethiopia. He was classified as a member of the Class of 2009 at Our Savior New American last season. This year, we've confirmed he's enrolling at the Winchendon School and is a 2008 post-graduate student. That means he's not going to be in our Top 100 but will be the No. 1 post-graduate player on our board.
Will he ever play college basketball? "He's preparing to go to college," a source close to Riek said. "If the opportunity provides itself, he's going to make that decision. He wants to learn English (better) so when he does go to the NBA he knows what's going on."
Oh, the opportunity will be there for him to pick his school. However, we've confirmed through our source the four schools currently in the running are Connecticut, Duke, Florida and Georgetown. Three of the programs have connections to African players who played on their campuses and Florida, well; Riek knows they won the whole thing the last 2 years!
Is he a potential NBA selection next year? You bet. Again, our source indicated that since he's a post-graduate, the option to play for pay will be there. Should he continue progressing at his present rate, in our opinion he's a high selection. That would leave him weighing the chance to earn serious dollars against bettering his English. When that happens, the international language of "fat NBA contract" usually wins out.
At any rate, John Riek was the single biggest success story of the first half of the month. He was the most revered prospect at LeBron's camp and should he enter college some day, will have a very large impact on the conference he elects to play in.
Deacons Wake Up With Big Class
Shortly after the contest, Aminu and his pal Tony Woods told members of the media that they were going to commit to Wake Forest. Skip Prosser watched that game armed with the knowledge that he was about to be sitting on one of the nation's top recruiting classes. Aminu, ranked No. 3 by Scout.com, joined Ty Walker (No. 14) and Tony Woods (No. 55). Only UCLA could argue a better recruiting class thus far.
For the rest of the event, the talk centered around the recruiting job Wake Forest had done. Prosser and Co. pulled the No. 1 recruit from the state of North Carolina, the top dog in Georgia and beat Florida for Woods. Toss in the fact that Aminu's brother will be a junior starter for Tech next year and the plot thickens.
Oregon Has Its Ducks In A Row
High-major assistants sat in the stands and watched Matthew Humphrey knock down shots in Akron at the LeBron James Skills Academy. It's tough enough recruiting a player and having him tell you he's going somewhere else. To hear word beginning to leak out without actually knowing for sure is like dying a slow death.
Reality was about to set in and the rumor raced through camp: Humphrey would eventually be a Duck. Wait, there's more: Michael Dunigan is going with him.
Humphrey's pledge was predictable. The writing was at least on the wall. Dunigan, well, his impending commitment caught everyone off guard. Ernie Kent's program features an assistant, Kenny Payne, who is on the ball. Payne's a real problem for rival recruiters. He's wired up and has three Midwest success stories in his program: Malik Hairston, Tajuan Porter and Joevan Catron.
Catron, Humphrey and Dunigan all run with Meanstreets, an up-and-coming AAU powerhouse.
When A Pledge Is Not A Promise
Years ago, the ABCD Camp used to be the place to make a pledge to your favorite school. Now the camp is defunct and so is the idea of verbal pledges carrying much weight. Since the beginning of the month, 4 major programs have had to endure the loss of a recruit.
At this stage in the game with over 85 of the 200 best players committed before the month began, losing a guy can be downright disastrous. College basketball is in serious trouble and no one seems to know how to fix what's happening. Are we the only ones who care about this nasty trend?
Our football counterparts routinely deal with "soft verbals." In hoops, until now, we didn't have that term. It's dangerous when you can't take a kid's word about his college choice. It's also a slippery slope if colleges take early commitments and begin pulling scholarship offers on kids. De-commitments are a two-way street and we understand the fault can be on either side.
From what we can gather, losing commitments, getting out of commitments or simply switching allegiances is about to become an accepted practice. We hear Webster's is on the verge of entering a new definition into their dictionary.
There's got to be a resolution to this problem. Right now we're in instant gratification mode. If it feels right, then commit. Besides, you can always get out of your pledge. What's the big deal? The big deal is this trend isn't good for the long term health of the game.
Who's No. 1?
Not this debate again!
Greg Monroe entered the summer holding down the top spot. Realistically, he should be able to hold down the fort and fend off all comers. The 6-10 stud is talented enough to make it happen. Heck, last summer he was motivated enough to knock Tyreke Evans off his perch.
Can/will Monroe string together a late July resume strong enough to do it? Will Samardo Samuels' claim as the most productive player sway voters to his corner? What happens if Demar DeRozan stays hot? Is Evans on the rebound? What about Aminu, Holiday and Jennings? These guys should be glad Riek's a post-grad or there might be a new sheriff in town anyway!
As you can tell, right now we've got more questions than answers!
Enjoy the rest of the summer!