Top Sophomore PF High On Duke

Sometimes high major prospects just know where they want to go to school before they hit the big time. That may be the case with one Georgia standout, who doesn't hesitate to let the world know that the Blue Devils are his leader.

Gani Lawal Jr. (pronounced Gun-EE-La-Wall) may not be a household name to Duke fans. But that may be about to change.

The 6-8 power forward who hails from Riverdale High School in Georgia is quickly emerging as an outstanding prospect, even though he's just a 16 year old sophomore. He's been to Duke on an unofficial visit -- his father doesn't even hesitate to call the Blue Devils his current leader.

"That's what he's been saying lately," said Lawal Sr., a Nigerian-born real estate agent in Atlanta. "He really likes Duke, and he and his mother went to the Blue White game earlier this year."

"He's also considering Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. And Wake Forest as well. Those are his top schools right now, but it's safe to say that Duke is the leader right now."

Lawal, who carries a 3.8 GPA, performed well at the Roundball Classic in late December where Duke sent assistant Steve Wojciechowski out to watch him. He already has firm scholarship offers from several SEC schools and more offers will surely be rolling in soon, especially since he's looking to get things done early.

Real early.

"It's not out of the realm of possibility for him to commit really early," said Lawal Sr. "It could happen really soon, but I think it will definitely happen by his junior year."

After running last summer with Team Reebok, Lawal is planning to switch over and play for the Georgia Stars this summer, which will surely offer the lanky shot-blocker much more exposure on a national level as well as some opportunities to go up against some of the top big men in his class including Kevin Love, Keenan Ellis, Gary Johnson and others.

We asked specifically about Lawal's interest in the Atlantic Coast Conference...

"That's where he wants to play. That's what he tells me. He really likes the schools there, like Duke, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and of Georgia Tech. And college, as I have told my son, is something that I believe every person needs to go through. We believe in college and sometimes the option of going straight to the NBA is there for some high school kids, but I really believe college will be the choice for him."

Currently standing at 6-foot-8, and 205 pounds -- Lawal thinks his son will increase his size dramatically by the time he enters college.

"I think he will probably grow to around 6-11 and he knows that he has to put on some weight and get stronger."

Cruising the Internet, for rankings on Lawal won't yield much for recruiting fans, but we spoke to a highly intelligent mid major coach on the eastern seaboard who says that the 6-foot-8 sophomore is going to be one of the best in his class.

"He just hasn't been out there enough. Not many have seen him, but when they do, trust me, he'll be on all of the lists. And he'll be near the top of them. He's got work to do on his game, that's for sure. He's really skinny and not all that powerful yet, but he's got the frame, the reactions and the tools to be a an elite level post guy. But let's remember he's a sophomore, so this is where he's supposed to be in terms of development right now," he said.

The Devils Den Top Stories