Abu has grabbed Wildcats' attention

Abdul-Malik Abu closed out an impressive spring with a strong showing at last week's NBPA Top 100 Camp, scoring 45 points and grabbing 16 rebounds over the course of five games in Charlottesville, Va., and earning praise as one of the toughest competitors in the event.

Abdul-Malik Abu closed out an impressive spring with a strong showing at last week's NBPA Top 100 Camp, scoring 45 points and grabbing 16 rebounds over the course of five games in Charlottesville, Va., and earning praise as one of the toughest competitors in the event.

The four-star forward from Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire has seen his stock rise steadily while playing for Xpressions Elite as a part of the Nike EYBL, and many schools seem to have taken notice. One program that could try to make a late push in order to sway Abu in its direction is Kentucky.

"They just came into my recruitment as of late," Abu said. "From the last live period, (John) Calipari watched me play himself, and I performed well. So that's really how it all got started."

The UK staff began their evaluation of Abu in the spring and they have expressed great interest in continuing to keep a close eye on the 6-foot-7, 235-pound power forward.

"They said the same thing that some of the other schools have said," Abu said. "They say they are going to follow you in July, and if it plays out that you are a guy that we want to have in our program, they'll hand (an offer) over. So I just have to keep playing hard."

Being a Boston native, one would think that Abu is familiar with the recent success of Kentucky's latest shot-blocking sensation, Nerlens Noel, who is the odds-on favorite to be No. 1 overall pick in next week's NBA Draft.

"Nerlens? Yeah. I wouldn't say I follow him, but he's one of those guys out of Massachusetts that has made it, and is about to make it into the NBA," Abu said. "So it's just motivation for all of us big guys out of Massachusetts."

Abu is a slightly undersized 4 man who makes up for it by playing an old-school brand of basketball. Providing energy and toughness every time he steps on the court is what has allowed Abu to make a name for himself. And while he admits most of the players he admires are point guards, there is one NBA legend he aspires to model his game after.

"Growing up all my favorite players were point guards, but once I got past that height, that stopped working," Abu said. "But I really idolize Charles Barkley because he's a banger. He's an old-school type of guy who gets in there and plays rough, and that's what I do."

Ranked as Scout's No. 79 overall player in the 2014 class, Abu is not the typical high-profile recruit that UK fans have become accustomed to following throughout the Calipari Era. But after the 2012-13 season woes, which ended in a first round NIT loss to Robert Morris, the Kentucky coaching staff will likely be focusing on prospects who come equipped mental toughness and high character, two things Abu has in abundance.

Abu said that members of the UK coaching staff have contacted him several times in the last couple of weeks. "I've talked to coach Orlando (Antigua) multiple times, and I talked to Calipari recently," he said. "And they have only said good things about me, so it's great."

Their message to the Boston native is simple: if he performs well during the July live period, he could have that desired Kentucky offer in his possession by summer's end, joining progams like Kansas, Texas, N.C. State and Florida among a dozen others.

Abu said he may consider visiting UK in the fall if an offer develops.

"If they offer me then definitely. Why not?" Abu said. "But until they offer me, I can't consider it as one of my visits because I have schools that have already put an offer on the table. I already have a ton of schools that I have offers from and I'm mostly their high priority."


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