Cornelio Guibunda Update Part 1

GBW gets an update on one of the summer's rising sleepers from his AAU head coach and guardian, Ervin Braun. Particularly enlightening was my conversation with the coach's wife regarding the young basketball phenom in their care. Who says women don't know anything about sports?

Cornelio Guibunda, originally from Mozambique, averaged 25 ppg., 14 rpg., and 7 bpg last year for the King-Low Heywood School in Stamford, Connecticut. During the spring he plays AAU ball for the Connecticut Flame, which is coached by his guardian, Ervin Braun. I phoned the Braun household recently and the Coach wasn't available. That seemed to be a slight problem until Mrs. Braun kindly mentioned that she could help me out with whatever I needed. That, my friends, was an understatement. This lady knows her hoops, and she was very pleasant to boot! (Coach Braun later informed me that they have two sons that played some college ball and that Mrs. Braun is well versed in the game.) Below is part 1 of GBW's update on this intriguing prospect.

GBW would like to thank the Braun's for their indulgence

. Here are the significant portions of my Q&A with Mrs. Braun.

Can you give me his size?

"He's 6'9" and weighs 210 pounds."

How would you describe his game?

"He moves around a lot, but he prefers to play the 4. He's really good facing the basket, but he's also very comfortable in the post. He's not a big banger underneath because he's thin, but he's very athletic. He's fast and loves to run in the open court. He's also a very good shot blocker."

Can you tell me what position he projects to in college?

"He would like to be a 4."

Whom would you compare him to in the college or the pros?

"There's a guy that plays for Syracuse named Hakim Warrick. A lot of people have said that Cornelio is a similar type of athlete."

What do you think will be the most important factors in his decision?

"I think he'd like to be somewhere a little warmer than here, but the major factor for him will be academics. He is very serious about his studies. He'd like to be Pre-Med."

I caught up with Coach Braun a little later in the evening for further info on Cornelio.

Your wife gave me a pretty good description of Cornelio's game. Give me your take on it?

"Cornelio is one of those very very talented, tall, athletic guys that can run like a gazelle. His game is stronger defensively than offensively right now. However, that's only because his defense is so incredible. As far as defense goes, he's a TREMENDOUS shot blocker. He has the uncanny ability (which you really can't coach) of blocking a shot and tipping it to himself, rather than rejecting the ball up into the third row. His wing span is 82.5". I know that because we were watching Emeka Okafor play one night and they mentioned how his wing span is 85" so I measured Cornelio's. So as I said, he's a fantastic shot blocker."

"He also has a great ability to handle the ball. I use him to break the press sometimes. He can come down and give a no look pass. He can also hit the pull up jumper. I tease him by telling him that he thinks he's a point guard. Truly, with the way his recruitment is going I would classify him as a very gifted power forward. He's one of those guys that can take people outside and hit jumpshots over them, or he'll take guys down low and work them in the post."

"He's learning a lot as he goes because he used to play the perimeter a lot, but he shot up in height really quickly. Now he's learning to mix it up with the big boys inside. He's a just a very graceful and athletically gifted kid. For that reason he's very versatile for us."

And you believe that he projects as a 4 in college?

"Yes, without question."

What part of his game do you think he needs to improve upon the most?

"I would have to say his explosion off of the dribble. He has great one-on-one moves, but I think his first step is not explosive enough. Not that he's slow... because running up and down the floor he beats everyone. Like I said before, he runs like a gazelle. But the power/explosion part of his game is what he needs to develop. He's already a really nice shooter, a really nice dribbler, and he has good post moves. But if he can add the power/explosion to his game, there's no telling how good he could be."

Tell me a little more about his post game.

"He's terrific in the post. The only thing he gives up down low is his weight. If he had more weight he'd be virtually unstoppable. He's got an incredible drop step. As far as comparisons go, by no means am I saying Cornelio is the next Hakeem Olajuwon, but he's got those same spinning, quick, back and forth, drop step, inside pivot moves. He's like a whirling dervish."

"What's really fabulous about him is if you really work with him and teach him a move, within five minutes he's doing it."

We'll have more on Guibunda, who'll be in action in the BoB Gibbons tournament this weekend, in part 2 of the update. In it Coach Braun addresses Cornelio's offers and Michigan's interest.

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