It's no surprise who talented St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Md.) sophomore marksman Andre Rafus admires most on the ranked Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team.
"Oh, Jared Nickens. He is so smooth, has a real smooth game. And I have a smooth game so I can relate. I like him a lot," Rafus said.
Speaking of "smooth," the 6-foot-8, 185-pound slender stroker is one of the area's top three-point bombers, and he lit up Gilman for 32 points this season, a game in which he knocked down 10 treys. A big step up for Rafus this season, who played junior varsity last year at SFA.
"Well, it's just working on it man, working on it. Me and my dad just getting in the gym [at SFA] and just working hard. That's the main thing I do every day," Rafus said.
Pops, Andre Rafus Sr., was a standout shooter at Baltimore's Walbrook High School in the early 1990's, and the one who has taught his son the game.
"And he was in Street & Smith's Magazine," Andre, Jr., said of his 6-7 father. "He was a long-range shooter too. He is the shooter I have learned from, and look up to, the most."
Rafus Jr. is averaging 16 points per game this season, and he wants to do more.
"It is working out great. I have been working on it a lot, all parts of my game and not just shooting, like off the dribble," Rafus said of his all-around game, and his emergence as more of a 'name' for the city prep power and beyond.
The early offer list is lengthy, with UConn, Georgetown, USC, Dayton, Kansas State, UNLV, UMass, Tennessee, UCLA, Missouri and others already offering, Rafus said. He said Maryland is in touch, has been out to see him a lot, and "they are high interest right now," Rafus said.
Rafus tripped to UMD for the Rutgers game last week and was impressed. He said Maryland has not offered yet but is expressing much interest.
"The crowd, the atmosphere, it was real crazy," Rafus said. "And the Terps are doing so well. I mean, it's real surprising to see them go from ranked nothing to number 13 in the country."
Rafus took in the Hoyas game this month against Memphis, while that and his UMD visit have been the only college trips so far. Next up, he has plans to return to UMD for the Northwestern game this weekend.
Last summer he played for Baltimore's Finest AAU program.
"I like Maryland," Rafus said. "I mean, I am not sure exactly where....I am just playing hard, that's all I am worrying about right now. Coach Bino [Ranson], well he has been at almost every game he can be at that I have played so far. So we'll see [about an offer]."
As a youngster growing up, Rafus knew Nick Faust, the former Baltimore guard, while he has followed the Terps program all along.
SFA is 16-6 so far, with Rafus providing the outside firepower as one of Charm City's top young scorers. With his long, slender frame and soft touch from deep, the potential is vast as his body/game fills out in the coming years.
"I do want to be able to become a better ball handler," Rafus said. "I mean, it's pretty good, but it is always good to have a tighter handle. And then on defense, I want to become a defensive stopper. That's what I am looking at now in my game."
Rafus said in looking down the road, he would like to study sports medicine at college.
"Because I want to be able to help. If I can't play beyond in basketball, I want to be able to help people," Rafus said.
Sophomore Andre Rafus Lighting It Up
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