The recruitment of slowly emerging forward Cheickna Dembele will soon reach a critical stage, and Iowa State is putting itself in the heart of things.
The Cyclones have been vying for the 6-foot-11 forward from Scotland Performance Institute in Chambersburg (PA) since late last year when assistant William Small stopped in, and the pursuit remains ongoing. Small and coach Steve Prohm visited the rising prospect in late February and Small made a detour on his way to the Sweet 16 in Chicago last Wednesday.
“You need to be at the Sweet 16,” Scotland coach Jareem Dowling told him.
“I’ll get there,” Small replied.
“I was like, ‘Wow.’” Dowling said. “That’s pretty big time. That’s a big time statement.”
In addition to Iowa State, Dembele currently holds offers from Missouri, North Carolina State, St. Joseph’s, Charlotte and LaSalle among others. Many other programs, including the likes of Syracuse, Florida, Alabama, Oregon, Maryland and several others have shown increased interest in recent weeks.
Dembele, who arrived in the United States from Mali, Africa, last November, has added 25 pounds and continues to add new wrinkles to his game. During the recruiting dead period that stretches from Wednesday to Wednesday, Dembele will take time off from basketball.
Soon after, his recruitment will begin to heat up.
“I’ll probably get him to put a list together so we can chop down the schools involved to not hold up the process for any other school,” Dowling said of the process ahead for Dembele. “Then give him a few more days to think about it, do some research and then make him cut it down again and try to get [visits] set up.”
The Dembele camp has yet to determine how many visits he will take before making a decision in April. Dembele could take three visits or may need to use all five depending on his comfort level as the process moves forward.
“So many people have done a great job of recruiting Cheick,” Dowling said. “I always thought three [visits] was a good number because you can compare three schools. It’s harder to compare two. He might have to take five. I don’t know that, though. Only Cheick and his family can decide that if it’s too hard for him to make a decision with three. Most of the time kids don’t need to take five [visits], but in his situation he might need to because so many people have done a great job recruiting the kid.”
The spring signing period begins April 13, and Dembele is expected to make a decision by the end of the month, though Dowling thinks the timetable could call for a decision to come later in the month than in the early portion.
So far, Dembele has developed a good relationship with Iowa State.
“I’ve known Coach Prohm from when I coached Division I and I was at Morehead State and he was at Murray State and he had that thing rolling. He carries himself in such a way that you like being around him," Dowling said. "It was a pretty easy transition talking to Coach Prohm. He’s down to earth and a real cool guy.”
“They actually lead me to believe that [he’s a priority] from their actions. A lot of people, they say stuff, but they’re showing.”