Rakeem Buckles Up For The Ride

Rakeem Buckles is going to be a success story from the Class of 2009. A role player on a strong high school team as a sophomore, he's now a bonafide 4-star prospect heading into the meat of his junior season.

When a guy turns the corner from prospect to player it's a beautiful thing. In the case of 6-foot-7 power forward Rakeem Buckles, sometimes even the player doesn't see it coming.

"It just came to me. I guess they seen something in me because I didn't see it in myself," Buckles told Scout.com. "I didn't think I was a D-I player yet but I was trying to become that."

Not only is Buckles a D-I player, he's a high level one. While one Big East team saw it coming, it wasn't until the Florida Fall Workout that the national media was treated to a look into the game of the Monsignor Pace junior.

Buckles, a long and bouncy power forward, plays an attacking style game. Instead of playing the true post, he faces and attacks, choosing to use his quickness to get by on offense. Defensively he's rangy and needs to add strength to hold his position inside.

"I just worked the whole summer. I worked with my high school coach and got a whole lot better. I developed my outside game a little bit and it came out better but it's not there yet."

However, Buckles said it's not his game that surprised him the most. "The biggest change is going from a few colleges looking at you to a lot of them."

One program in particular – Louisville – owns a category lead over the rest when it comes to recognizing Buckles talent. Last weekend Buckles visited the Cardinals unofficially. "I guess they see more in me than other colleges or they can make me into what they want me to be."

There's been speculation that Buckles may commit to the Cardinal and do it soon. Not so fast the 6-foot-7 (and growing) junior said.

"I was (going to commit) but I have to talk with my mom and dad. I think I'm going to wait; I was going to do it but I think I'll wait it out. My mom thinks I need to wait because that was my first visit and of course it was going to be good. That's why they wanted me to come up there and have a good time."

Make no mistake about it, the Cardinals are in prime shape. They were there first, Rick Pitino made a strong impression and because of all those things, the Cardinals occupy the top spot.

However, that's not to say they are without challengers. "Miami, that's the home team. Miami is coming hard too," Buckles said.

"I really don't know who really wants me. Some offered me but are they on me because they like me? No other schools come as hard as Louisville and Miami. Florida State came, West Virginia came once and Kansas State came once but they haven't come back. I don't know if they really want me. But those two schools really want me and need me."

While Buckles works on his ball handling and body, his Monsignor Pace machine will continue churning out wins. Buckles is in a unique position. He can mature on his own schedule as he's flanked by Top 100 Florida signee Ray Shipman and VCU signee Terrance Saintil.

"I didn't play that much last year. I've gone from not playing that much to being one of the main scorers."

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