Five Star Guard Checks In

He's been on the radar for a while, but now Houston's Rasheed Sulaimon may be closing in on a scholarship offer from the Blue Devils. The 6'4 shooting guard spoke to TDD this week to provide an update.

The strong start to the 2010-2011 season for Strake Jesuit College Prep has a lot to do with Rasheed Sulaimon. And if the Fighting Crusaders are going to continue to out-pace the competition, the five star guard knows he'll have to keep up his production.

"So far our season has started really strong," said Sulaimon. "We are 9-2 on the year and we are building. We have several new guys who came up and are adjusting to the varsity level, and we're playing a lot of very good teams. As everyone continues to get comfortable and we get our chemistry down, I think we're going to be better and better."

Constant improvement has been something every high major player talks about at some point, but for Sulaimon it became a way of life as he transitioned to the role of upperclassman. Extra time put in at the gym, away from the summer travel scene, and a consistent training regiment are the factors the five star guard credits for allowing him to emerge as the team's leading scorer (22.9 ppg) and top assist (3.9 apt) man. He's also second on the team in rebounds at 5.3 per game.

"I worked really hard on my ball handling and just getting my body stronger. I'm noticing more and more that I am rebounding better and I can finish around the rim after contact. I also grew a little bit and am around 6-foot-4 and a half. I'm also seeing that I'm a little bit quicker and more explosive now."

"This season I'm running the point around 85 percent of the time. I'm the strongest ball handler on my team, so coach has me running that position. At times, teams will try to double-team me and get the ball out of my hands early so I'll occasionally slide over to the scoring guard position to come off screens."

The versatility to play either backcourt position is why a number of schools have made Sulaimon a top priority in the class of 2012.

"I think [the coaches] like my versatility and I think playing both positions has really helped me. For me it's easier to learn the two guard from the point position instead of trying to be a point guard from the two. Playing the point this year has really forced me to up my basketball IQ and my understanding of the game."

Programs such as Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Indiana, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Oregon State and Arizona have all been in touch with all but Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina extending a scholarship to date.

With regards to the Blue Devils, Sulaimon has been in touch recently with the coaching staff in the form of assistant Nate James. However, on Sunday he had a chance to speak with head coach Mike Krzyzewski who indicated that Rasheed is certainly on the radar.

"He told me he genuinely liked the way I played and that he believed I would really fit in well to their system. That if I believed in the system and truly bought in and worked hard, really good things could happen. I know that Duke is big on execution and Coach K expects his players to come in and be able to execute from day one. They are going to be watching me in person soon he said."

That expectation was crystal clear when Sulaimon visited Duke earlier this year and was able to take in a practice.

"Seeing the Duke facilities and the way they practice was really good for me. I visited Duke and Baylor. When I make those visits I'm looking at the different things any basketball fan would, but I'm also looking at other aspects. Things like how the team practices. How much instruction and attention the coaches are giving. What the players say in terms of making the transition to the college game. And how it really is being a student athlete at that school."

Currently there is no timetable for advancing his recruiting process. Each program on his list is in the process of building relationships with Rasheed and his family. How those relationships progress will likely be a determining factor in how quickly he comes off the market.

"I think my family and I are both focusing on what we can control. [My parents] are focusing on the kind of trust and relationship they have with the different coaches because I'm not going to be home for school, so they want to know I'm in a good situation when I can excel. Really there is no time I'm looking to commit. I'm just going to work on getting better and the recruiting will take care of itself."

Sulaimon is ranked as a top 20 prospects and the nation's No. 4 shooting guard by Scout.com.


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