Elite Programs Targeting Big Man From England

Surrey, England, product Matthew Bryan-Amaning is following in the footsteps of countrymen Luol Deng and Eric Boateng by becoming a top Division I recruiting target.

INDIANAPOLIS-Indiana has thoughts of adding some more foreign flavor to its roster.

While IU Assistant Head Coach Kerry Rupp spends the week in Australia scouting players in the '06 class, there's another player from overseas that has caught Indiana's attention – South Kent (Conn.) Prep School standout Matthew Bryan-Amaning.

The 6'9", 213-pound Bryan-Amaning is a native of England, having come out of the same program that produced former Duke standout and current Chicago Bull Luol Deng as well as current Duke Blue Devil Eric Boateng. He starred on that club team and a handful of England's national youth teams before coming to the U.S. last fall to play for Coach Raphael Chillious' South Kent Prep program. Indiana assistant coach Thad Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has been keeping a close eye on the Class of 2007 product, whose ranked as the 11th-best power forward in the class according to Scout.com.

"It was Coach Fitzpatrick (that has been recruiting me)," said Bryan-Amaning. "We touched base during preseason because he came to a few of our practices, and I've seen him at a few tournaments. He keeps telling me to work hard and keep playing and that I can be really good player if I just continue to work toward fulfilling my potential."

That potential appears to be significant. Bryan-Amaning is a gifted athlete who can run the floor extremely well for a big man. He's an excellent rebounder and shot blocker, and he's been adding to his offensive game at South Kent.

"Basically, my all-around game improved - I know how to play basketball better," said Bryan-Amaning. "Before, I could get by on athletic ability at home. But now I know how to play basketball better. Little parts of my game have improved. My quickness has improved, my mid-range jump shot is better, and my ball handling."

He's developed those skills while playing on one of the top prep school teams in the country. Last year's South Kent squad featured a plethora of big names, including recent NBA second-round draft pick Andray Blatche. In addition, '06 standouts Rob Thomas and recent Pitt-commit Gilbert Brown were big contributors on a squad that had as many as 10-12 future Division I basketball players.

"(Coach Chillious) would match me up against Andray Blatche in practice. He knew it would be a struggle and it would be tough, but he likes how I work hard and I can push him in practice as well," said Bryan-Amaning.

"I like to think that I don't back down from anyone. No matter what happens, I'm going to go at anybody. We have players like Gilbert Brown and Rob Thomas who are really tough and are going to be high Division I players. I know if I can play well against them, I can play against anyone in the country."

Much like the situation at South Kent practices, the competition from a recruiting standpoint figures to be fierce. Bryan-Amaning said he won't put together a list of schools until after his junior season, but it's an impressive array of programs that are hoping to get involved.

"UNC, Duke, Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech, Syracuse, UConn, Kansas, Villanova, Indiana…they've all been trying to contact me and my coach," said Bryan-Amaning.

Unlike many top prep players, Bryan-Amaning doesn't have the luxury of already being well-versed in the strengths and weaknesses of many of the programs that are trying to get involved. That's one of the reasons he's been hesitant to point to any favorites, or eliminate any programs from consideration.

"I don't know where I want to go, and I don't have a top five or a top 10 like a lot of kids do. I'm keeping it open," said Bryan-Amaning. "I've been talking to my coach about it a lot and my parents, because my parents love the academics. I talk to my mom and dad and especially my coach about the basketball side of things."

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