A few years ago, former Georgetown player Joe Touomou was doing one of the things he does best - combing overseas for top basketball talent. He happened upon a blooming talent in France.
Touomou suggested that Eric Katenda bring his game to the United States. Now, the Class of 2011 forward has gained the attention of some big college basketball programs.
"European basketball is a lot different than American basketball," the 6-foot-9, 205-pounder said. "The U.S. is a lot more athletic with more one-on-ones. It was tough my first year."
Katenda has found that his skills fit the American game. Iowa, Michigan and Notre Dame have offered scholarships. Connecticut, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Georgetown and St. John's have shown a lot of interest.
"Ever since I started playing basketball in France, my coaches would tell me to be more selfish," Katenda said. "They didn't want me to be a ball hog but look more for my shot, be more aggressive with it. I've adjusted to that."
Katenda secured an offer from Siena when Fran McCaffery and Andrew Francis coached at the school. They moved to Iowa and extended the same deal to the talented prospect.
"They've been on me for a while," Katenda said. "I would say that we talk on the phone at least once every few weeks. Whenever we went to Albany with my AAU team, we would practice at Siena and I would sit down and talk to those guys. They'd always be at my workouts and games."
Katenda plays for Chesire (CT) Academy and AAU with City Rocks, Upstate New York's only Nike sponsored traveling team.
"I'm 6-9 and can play anywhere, the 1 through 5 spots," Katenda said. "When I was young, I played the two guard and it allowed me to work on dribbling and perimeter skills. That helped me as a grew.
"I can take a center away from the basket and take him off the dribble. I can post up smaller guys. I've been working on my mid-range game. I want to be able to hit it off the quick dribble. That‘s hard to defend."
Katenda said that it's too early for him to name a favorite college. He's hoping a big summer leads to more offers.
"Even before I came to the U.S., I wanted to go to Georgetown," Katenda said. "Now that I started thinking about it, I see that there's a lot of great schools out there."
Katenda wants to play in the top conference against the best players.
"I'm looking for a good fit and a chance to play as a freshman," he said. "I don't want to sit around for two years and not see the floor until I'm a junior. I wanted coaches I can count on. If I want to work on my game at seven in the morning, I want someone there that can work with me."
Katenda feels like McCaffery fits that mold.
"I got to see a lot of their workouts (at Siena)," he said. "He knows a lot about the game and he cares about his players on and off the court. He's a lot more than just a coach.
"He can be friends with you off the court, but he pushes you hard on it. That's what I'm looking for."
Katenda plans on waiting until the spring of 2011 before making his college choice.