Bloomington – Tijan Jobe might be only four years removed from his life in Gambia, but the newest member of Indiana's 2008 recruiting class is no stranger to IU basketball.
The 7-0, 250-pound Jobe came to the United States four years ago through the African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education Foundation (A-HOPE), which is run by Bloomington resident Mark Adams. The foundation is designed to provide talented basketball players from a host of African countries the opportunity to come to the United States to use their skills as a means to get a U.S. education.
Jobe is one of many who have taken advantage of the program, along with familiar names such as Emmanuel Negedu, Beas Hamga (UNLV), Alfred Aboya (UCLA) and Idong Ibok (Michigan State). Since the foundation is based out of Bloomington, it's also given Jobe an opportunity to familiarize himself with the IU program.
"He knows what Indiana basketball is all about," said Olney CC Coach Mike Burris. "He's been to games, been on campus. If they were going to offer, I know it was a no brainer for him. He was going to take it."
That offer officially came Tuesday morning when Jobe met with IU Coach Tom Crean, and he quickly accepted. Burris said Jobe picked the Hoosiers over UAB and Auburn.
While Jobe's averages of four points, four rebounds and 13 minutes/game might have some scratching their heads about IU's interest, Burris said Jobe fulfills a variety of needs that the IU program has at this point.
"First off, he's a great kid," Burris said. "I know that's what Coach Crean and his staff are trying to establish, getting it done with high character kids. He fits that."
But Burris said there's also more skill and potential than his modest averages might suggest. He has a 7-5 ½ wing span, which immediately makes him IU's biggest and most imposing interior player. He's also a physical player who often found himself in foul trouble this past season because of that trait.
"His potential is really high," Burris said. "I don't think he's tapped into what he can do. He has a lot of room to get better, he has a great work ethic, and we've seen a lot improvement in him even since the season came to an end.
IU Assistant Coach Tim Buckley was the first staff member to look at tape or Jobe and was immediately intrigued. Crean then looked at the tape as well, which prompted the staff to look to get Jobe on campus as soon as possible.
Burris said throughout the last couple of weeks once IU began showing interest in Jobe, Crean has consistently maintained that IU's interest isn't simply a result of a shortage of players on next year's roster. It's based on the potential that they saw on film to take an unpolished player and turn him into a significant contributor in Bloomington.
"A lot of times with the foreign kids, it takes that third and fourth year for them to really develop and become accustomed to the American game and the American style," Burris said. "We've had kids to go on to do really good things that were foreign big kids at four year schools.
"I think most coaches will agree if you've got a kid who is willing to work hard and spend extra time on his game the only thing he can do is get better. And Tijan fits that. He's a hard working kid."
Jobe Is No Stranger to IU Basketball
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