Scotland Prep Institute (PA) has become a revolving door for college coaches over the last couple of weeks, as several programs are stopping by to check out emerging senior post prospect Cheickna Dembele.
Programs like St. Joe's, Iowa State, Missouri and Charlotte have offered while others such as NC State, UCONN, Providence, Maryland, Georgetown, Baylor, Penn State, Pittsburgh, LSU, Southern Miss, and East Carolina are showing interest. Arkansas, Iowa, and Arizona State are expected to be in next week to evaluate Dembele.
SPI head coach Jareem Dowling admits that he has been a busy man.
"It's been really busy," said Dowling, laughing. "I don't want to leave anyone out and have some coaches read this and see them not mentioned."
Dembele, a 6-foot-10 center from Mali in West Africa, is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks per game for SPI, a prep school located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He arrived in the United States in November, but he has adjusted to a new lifestyle and the consistent grind of prep basketball.
"The biggest adjustment for him was probably the temperature outside," said Dowling. "He's never experienced anything like that before. On the court, he was ready to play right away. We're not going to take credit for him coming in with a really good skillset and a strong work ethic. He's unbelievably disciplined on and off the court, and he came here that way.
"He already had a good feel and a good IQ. He runs the floor like a gazelle, and he's already put on 25 pounds since he's been here. All we're doing to him is basically seasoning him. He came in talented so we're trying to add some sides to him because he is the main dish."
NC State came in Wednesday to watch Dembele in action, and the Wolfpack left impressed. In fact, head coach Mark Gottfried is expected to evaluate Dembele next week.
"Coach Moxley from NC State was in for our game last night," said Dowling. "He was blunt. He said he's really good, and they need a guy like him. He was the last text I got last night and the first text I got last morning so I know how interested they are.
"Coach Moxley, I know he is a grinder. I didn't really know him prior to this, but I knew of his reputation as a hard worker and doing things the right way."
Coach Dowling is familiar with NC State and their personnel, and he believes that if Dembele attended NC State it would be a good fit.
"I've watched NC State the last few years, and I've seen them a couple of times this year," he said. "Check fits what they are doing and how they play. With the players they have coming back next year, he'd fit with how he can run the floor, post up, and defend."
Dembele has played the last few seasons internationally with Team Africa in the adidas Nations, and in 2014 he averaged 7.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks while shooting 47.1% from the field and averaging 25 minutes per game. He was slated to play in 2015 with Team Africa, but he didn't suit up.
According to Dowling, it's still extremely early in the process, but Dembele will likely take some official visits prior to signing in the spring signing period.
"All he ever says is he wants to be around good people," said Dowling. "He told us that if he's around good people, then basketball will be good for them. that's really the type of kid he is, and he's confident but humble.
"Wherever he goes next year, we're more than confident that he'll be a guy that can go in and play right away. We're trying to developing him as a college player... my entire staff has coached college basketball at some level and have all played on the college level so we're giving all of our guys the best that we have."
Dembele projects to be a full academic qualifier.