Melo Emerges As Big Talent

It's not possible for a 6-foot-11, 270-pound center to stay hidden for long, but Fab Melo managed to fly below the radar for a few months. Now he's among the top post prospects in 2010.

Fab Melo is currently the hot name among college basketball coaches.

Just this past weekend Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan, Jim Boeheim, Leonard Hamilton, Darrin Horn and John Calipari stopped by Weston (Fla.) Sagemont School to examine the 6-foot-11, 270-pound big man. And the coaches left with glaring reviews.

"He might be the best big man in the country," one high major assistant coach, who recently saw him, told

Shortly after hearing that comment, laid eyes on Melo in Akron (Ohio) at the King James Shooting Stars Classic with the Florida Rams. Although the Rams didn't make it far in the event, Melo stood out.

Up against King James in pool play, Melo dominated the paint. Aggressively he carved out position on the block using his size and strength. Melo showed great touch inside and made quick, decisive moves to the bucket.

Following the King James event, Sagemont head coach Adam Ross echoed our thoughts about the big man.

"For a kid his size he runs so well and has incredible hands," he said. "He can shoot the ball out to 20-feet. There's just not a lot of big kids that can do that. He can catch the ball on the wing and drive to the rim."

"His potential is so incredibly over the top," Ross added. "He's got this amazing upside that college coaches just can't help but fall in love with."

Surprisingly Melo has only played basketball for three years. A native of Brazil, Melo, whose official name is Fabricio De Melo, made his way to the United States over the summer. He enrolled at Sagemont School prior to the season, but couldn't play due to international transfer rules.

Since he was ineligible to play his junior season, Melo stayed relatively under the radar. According to Ross, it was a pair of Big East programs that discovered the hidden gem.

"His recruitment really started in October or November when a couple of guys came in to see our two sophomores," Ross said. "Rick [Pitino] and Richard [Pitino] both came here together to see Richard Peters and Rod Days and they were like ‘who is that.' Then we started talking about Fabricio and they started recruiting him."

"UConn came in not long after that and both of those programs continued to come down throughout our season," Ross said. "Then I ended up taking him on a trip to Connecticut and saw a game there and then to Louisville and saw a game there and got to spend some time with their coaching staffs."

But shortly after Louisville and Connecticut established themselves in good position with Melo, a number of other schools began taking notice.

"For a while now, it's kind of been those two, Louisville and Connecticut," Ross said. "He hasn't made a decision so word kind of got out on him. Once the word did, we've had the college basketball world come through here. Everyone that comes tries to throw their hat into Fabricio's recruitment."

The schools that are firmly in the mix for Melo are Louisville, Connecticut, Syracuse, Texas, Florida, Miami and Florida State. All seven have offered the talented post prospect a scholarship.

"I would say that Louisville and Connecticut are leading here," Ross added. "The other five schools have some make up work to do. But they are doing a good job and they are being aggressive."

Although the Cardinals and Huskies have an early lead, there's still time for the other programs involved to catch up. Ross is planning to take Melo on a few visits next month and then hopes for a decision sometime this summer.

"I think that he'll make a decision certainly before the end of the summer," Ross said. I think at the very latest it would be at the end of the summer. We are going to go see a couple of schools in May."

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