The Sudanese Connection

In this report,'s Dan Stack takes a look at Sudanese natives who have signed on to be DePaul Blue Demons as well as a trio of Sudanese players who are considering making their future home in Lincoln Park…

When Thijin Moses committed to DePaul last spring, little did he know he was about to be a key recruiter for DePaul's basketball program. Being from the Sudan he has gotten fellow countryman and buddy Mac Koshwal (both prepped together at Chicago's Boys to Men Academy and played AAU ball together with the Chicago Jaguars) to sign with DePaul in the fall. With Moses and Koshwal in tow, the DePaul staff has their sites set on other Sudanese imports for the future.

Three such Sudanese products on the radar all play for the same AAU team - New York Elite and attend the same high school – Our Savior New American. DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright and associate head coach Gary DeCesare have formed a relationship with OSNA and New York Elite assistant coach Eric Jacklitsch. Jacklitsch speaks on behalf of his Sudanese products and has commended the job that the DePaul staff has done in recruiting his three Sudanese stars 6-11 Teeng Akol, 7-2 sophomore John Riek Suas, and 6-5 sophomore Leek Leek.

Akol is the one prospect the staff has had its eyes on most and the longest. Akol is a 6-11 power forward who can face up or shoot with range. Right now the main concern is where Akol stands academically. When talking with Jacklitsch, it's likely he will need a year of prep school before college, although he has not ruled out that Akol could be a 2007 recruit. If a prep school is needed, Jacklitsch has some plans to mull over. "We have a lot of contact with prep schools, we're just trying to see what he needs to do and then find the best fit for him," Jacklitsch commented on Teeng's future plans.

Akol would be a perfect fit for DePaul who is in need of some true low post weapons. Jacklitsch praised Akol as a game changer. "He's a skilled four man (who) can really shoot the ball," explained Jacklitsch. "He can pop out and face up. He's got to get a little bit tougher and work on his defense. He's extremely skilled with the ball. He passes it fairly well. He needs to work on his handle a little bit more and face up more. But you don't find many 6-11 guys who can bang and can shoot like that."

It's been noted DePaul is in very good shape with Akol since they were the first to offer a scholarship and would have taken him as a 2007 recruit or 2008 recruit. "They're very strong for him" said Jacklitsch. "Gary DeCesare has done a tremendous job with the kid. (DePaul) offered him right when he got here. They go to all his games when they are (allowed at) events. (DeCesare) and Jerry go to all his games. (They have been to) every one of his games at Vegas, every one of his games at ABCD. They really, really like him."

No doubt the contact of the coaching staff is paying off huge dividends, but the presence of two Sudanese players on DePaul's roster is paramount says Jacklitsch. "He knows Mac (Koshwal). He knows Thijin (Moses). You know they are both from Sudan, he knows them really well."

Akol also has developed a relationship with point guard Jeremiah Kelly, a recent commitment secured by the Blue Demons for the class of 2008. "He knows Jeremiah Kelly from the AAU circuit," Jacklitsch said of their relationship. "Jeremiah saw him a few weeks ago at Akron (during the King James tournament), a week before Jeremiah (committed), and was talking to him. He knows Teeng from ABCD and the NBA players camp."

Other schools have offered (Pittsburgh, St. John's, and Kentucky under Tubby Smith) but none has put in the work and dedication DePaul has. "There are some other schools that are trying to get involved" admitted Jacklitsch. "The big question with him is where he stands academically. DePaul hasn't wavered. They said they would take him in 2007 or 2008."

Jacklitsch says DePaul not only has its eyes on Akol, but also two of his Sudanese teammates in 7-2 center John Riek Suas and 6-5 combo forward Leek Leek. The two are high major prospects in the 2009 class and DePaul has put their hat in the ring for their services already. "They offered big John (Riek Suas)" Jacklitsch discussed. " He's only a sophomore. He's one of the best players in the country. They are recruiting Leek Leek. He's only a sophomore. Leek's got two brothers that live in Chicago."

Suas is an imposing figure at 7-2. He runs the floor very well for his size. His upper body strength is unmatched in his class. He is getting looks from other big schools such as Pittsburgh, Arizona, Georgia Tech, and St.John's. Suas will be a hot commodity when he decides to pick a school.

Leek is a strong slasher type who attacks the rim with reckless abandon. He runs the floor like a gazelle and can finish easily. He will be a target of major schools when he decides his college future as well.

Both could be welcomed with open arms and the Sudanese connection can only help with DePaul recruiting these star athletes.

"That's definitely going to help them," Jacklitsch concluded about the Sudanese connection. "DePaul would (still) be recruiting the kids whether Mac and Thijin weren't there. It only can help DePaul with Mac and Thijin being there. DePaul has been in with all the kids."

Check out the following video of Leek Leek in action...

Leek Leek Video

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