CARMICHAEL, Calif. -- After a slow first quarter, 2016 three-star Ben Koné caught fire, scoring 31 points and pulling down 14 rebounds the rest of the way – with 16 points in the second quarter alone – to lead San Jose (Calif.) Archbishop Mitty to a 75-66 win over Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary’s on Friday night.
California has been watching Koné for quite some time now, and Koné has reciprocated the interest.
“Cal’s making a push,” Koné said. “I’m definitely listening to Cal. Oregon State, in terms of Pac-12 schools, just joined the hunt. A couple other schools, too. Oregon and Oregon State just requested my transcripts and stuff like that, but they can’t get those out until December, after I take finals.”
Koné visited Berkeley for the Bears’ game against Montana.
“It was great to be there,” Koné said of the game against the Grizzlies. “On Montana, they have Jermaine Edmonds and Mario Dunn, and I love to see all the Salesian guys in the building.”
There are a few other schools in the hunt besides the Bears, as it were, including San Diego State, which, along Cal assistant Yanni Hufnagel, watched Koné over the summer in Anaheim. New Mexico and New Mexico State have also joined the fray.
“I’m excited about all of those schools, really,” said Koné.
What will the transcripts show?
“I don’t know exactly, because I took some summer school classes, because when I moved from [Richmond, Calif.] Salesian, I took Spanish over the summer, I had to take Algebra over the summer, too, because I wasn’t really on-course for a lot of things at Salesian,” Koné said. “Mitty’s got me on track to graduate and all that stuff, so it’s good to go.”
Koné broke down what he likes about the Bears, and it starts with another former member of the Salesian Pride.
“Cal, hey, man, I love Jabari Bird,” Koné said. “When I was at the game, I saw them looking for the post a lot, and I love that. I love their play in the post. I think I can bang with anybody. I like that. I like that they were giving their big man, David Kravish, they were giving him the freedom to shoot these little jumpers. I saw at Fresno, when they played Fresno State, they were letting him shoot three’s, so that was exciting.”
Koné himself has three range, but wasn’t able to show off that part of his game on Wednesday, as he was mainly tasked with holding down the low post.
“It’s definitely a process here, and I really do respect the process that the coaching staff has. They’re really working to expand my game. When we play teams like St. Mary’s, I don’t feel like I got to play my full game tonight. I was mostly in the post. I love to show that I can shoot the ball. I love to show that I can dribble the ball, but in times like these – winning times – I’m going to the post.”
Koné feels that, once the schools see his transcripts, he’ll pull down offers, and watching Koné for the third time, it’s hard to disagree. He’s strong and powerful down low, positions himself well in the post, finishes with both hands, controls the glass on both ends of the floor, has plus athleticism and body control, possesses a smooth and pure free-throw stroke, and, though he didn’t get to show it on Friday, has extensive range and can really run the floor well for a young man his size.
Here’s what he thinks of the other suitors:
Oregon State: “They just kind of got in the hunt. I saw they had a top-10 recruiting class in the school’s history that’s coming in next season, and that’s exciting. This is their rebuilding year, so I really can’t judge too much off of this year. It’s going to be a lot of early games next season that I’m going to get to watch, and then I’ll really see how those guys gel and see how the coaching staff gels with the players.”
San Diego State: “Steve Fisher and that coaching staff have shown they can turn guys into well-developed pros. I really want to make that jump in my game. I’ve seen that they’ve been able to do that. I’m a huge Kawhi Leonard fan, a huge Spurs guy, so that was really interesting for me to see. That’s exciting.”
New Mexico State: “They really like to develop their freshmen, and I like to see that. That’s exciting.”
New Mexico: “That's the in-state rival, and I haven’t gotten to watch too many of their games. (Former UCLA Bruin, New Mexico Lobo and Salesian Pride, current Philadelphia 76er) Drew Gordon has given them really high referals. It’s a great place to grow.”