Abu Nearing A Decision

Meriden (N.H.) Kimball Union standout forward Abdul-Malik Abu has narrowed his recruitment to four schools, and he is close to making a decision.

Meriden (N.H.) Kimball Union standout Abdul-Malik Abu is considered by most to be one of the top power forwards in the country, and he made his name this spring and summer on the AAU circuit with Expressions Elite.

In keeping with his Islamic faith, Abu fasts during Ramadan, and this year Ramadan began on July 8th and ended August 7th. That means during the July evaluation period he played games, often two or three in a day, without eating or drinking between sunrise and sundown.

"It's something I had to do and wanted to do," said Abu. "I may have weakness during the day, but I fight through it and it makes me stronger. I look at it is as encouraging more kids to do it, and I wanted it to be a positive message for others.

"It wasn't easy, and I had to eat as much as I could when I could... the same for drinking."

The dedication Abu shows and his outstanding character are reasons why he is so coveted, along with being extremely talented. At 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, he can finish strong around the rim and is a relentless rebounder, but he is also talented enough with the ball in his hands that teams can run their offense through him.

"It's not a big man's game anymore," said Abu, laughing. "It's a guard's game, but I feel like I can play both inside and out. I want to go play in a system where I can show what I can do.

"I don't see myself as a traditional power forward. Growing up, my favorite player was Isiah Thomas so even though I was bigger than everyone I wasn't just posting up kids. I played outside, dribbled, shot the ball... I think it's helped me develop."

The four-star prospect landed several offers but narrowed his recruitment to four schools following the evaluation period. NC State, Florida, Providence, and UConn made the cut, and he took visits to all four schools in August.

He began by taking an unofficial visit to Providence.

"It was a great visit," said Abu. "They have down-to-earth people and coach Cooley has been recruiting me hard for two years now. I know they are trying to do big things down there."

Next up was a trip to NC State.

"I loved it at NC State," he stated. "I liked the overall vibe of the people there and the people in North Carolina. They showed me great hospitality, and the environment there stands out... with Duke and North Carolina right there everyone is following college basketball.

"Plus, the coaching staff is just amazing. They are really nice people and want you to understand their message and help them win a national title."

NC State assistant coach Orlando Early is handling Abu's recruitment, and they've made him a big priority.

"Coach Early, coach Gottfried, you just get a good feeling from them," he said. "They mean well, it's 100%. That's something I felt on the visit. I felt like I could be myself and was just so comfortable around them. They keep it real.

"Everybody has their own song... all the schools do. NC State's was their belief in me as a player. They believe in my talent and know that I can make an impact on their team, and their style of play fits me. They feel like the sky is the limit, and I'm capable of accomplishing a lot. I feel like if I went to NC State the ball would be in my court to succeed. If I fail, it wouldn't be because I'm in a bad situation."

He has also visited Florida, and the Gators are firmly in the mix.

"That visit went well," Abu said. "They have their own vision of me, and I can see how I would fit in."

Abu's most recent trip was to UConn, where he spent a lot of time with head coach Kevin Ollie.

"That trip was great," said Abu. "They talked about how much they want me, and how much they need me. Coach Ollie is a great guy. They are looking for strong, high-character people, and I think I would fit in there."

Abu has stated on various occasions that he would like to "play somewhere warm." When asked to expand on those comments, he laughed about it.

"It's a joke I always say," he said. "I'm an east coast guy and if I can go somewhere warm to play that would be great. But, I'm looking for the best fit for me as a basketball player, not names, big-time names.

"Past players or past success, that doesn't matter much to me because whether I succeed is going to come down to me. I'm looking to go wherever I can be the most successful at. It could be warm or cold there [laughing]."

Look for Abu to make a decision in the next couple of weeks, but for now he doesn't have a firm date set.

"Right now we have a confidential date, but I don't want to put it out publicly yet because it could change," he said. "Our plan is to do a press conference before I go back to school, and I go back on September 10th.

"I feel like I've narrowed it down. I'm going to take feedback from others, but I believe it's up to you to decide your own path."

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