RALEIGH — While most of the nation’s aspiring hoops recruits signed letters of intent this week, one guy who remained on the sidelines was Rawle Alkins. The New York transplant, playing this year at Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God, will take his list of eight schools into next year.
”My commitment is going to be late in the spring, real late,” Rawle Alkins said. “The reason I chose to pick late is I want to see where guys go, where college coaches go, players go, who’s going to the NBA and who’s not, who’s going to leave and who’s going to stay on the coaching staff.”
Alkins can afford to be patient. With offers from North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, N.C. State, Indiana, Louisville, St. John’s and Louisville, he’ll have his choice from among some of the country’s very best collegiate programs.
In the meantime, he’s focused on leading nationally ranked Word of God to a triumphant season.
”We’re still trying to get a feel for each other,” Alkins said, “(but) as soon as we start flowing with each other, I think we’re going to be one of the top teams in the country, if not the top team in the country.”
Coming from Alkins, those aspirations read substantially. The powerful guard led his former school, Christ the King, to a pair of state championships and also led the N.Y. Rens to the Adidas Finals championship this past July.
”I just try to do whatever it takes to win,” Alkins said. “Any team that I’m on, I expect winning no matter what. No matter what team, I’m going to give it my all.”
He’s also attempting to fashion his body into that of a strong, yet lean college athlete. Alkins has bordered on the bulky side at times during his high school career and strives to become streamlined this season.
“I came out here and my body fat was 20 percent,” he said. “Now I’m working out and it’s down to 13. Right now I’m 220 (pounds), I’d like to stay in the 200s and be a big bodied guard like I am.”
Alkins is a good stationary jump shooter who handles and passes very well for his size and body type. He also possesses surprisingly nimble feet on the move, as the the highlights above — taken from WoG's season opener this week — illustrate.
Proximity has brought him into close contact with the Tar Heels. Already since arriving in North Carolina, he has visited Chapel Hill on three separate occasions — including both Late Night and the Guilford exhibition game last Friday.
”I was recently at the UNC game,” he said. “They put me on the floor, I was next to their student section. They showed a lot of love.
”They (coaching staff) are already familiar with my face, it’s not like they have to impress me anymore. It’s really just going to see how the game is, the playstyle, and I’d rather watch a game in person than on TV.”
Alkins would like to attend future games as well but will have to manage his time carefully, given that Word of God will play more than 40 games this season. Upon receiving a standardized test score, he’ll also begin scheduling official visits. He doesn’t intend to utilize one of the available five officials to visit UNC — given that he has eight schools to entertain, mostly outside the area — but Roy Williams certainly has pursued him aggressively.
”Carolina is saying they have a seniors’ team, they predict some to go to the league,” Alkins said. “Right now they’re calling me the best scorer in the class. They said next year they’re going to need a guy to take over the team, to be that top-notch guy.
”Right now, Roy Williams, which is shocking to me, he’s comparing me to Michael Jordan. He’s saying how Michael Jordan as a freshman was 6-4 like me. I don’t really lift weights, he said Michael Jordan hated the weightroom just like me, he started lifting his junior year and that’s when he became Michael Jordan. Right now I’m starting to lift weights with the team, and I feel a change in my game and my body.”
Alkins insists that all eight of his finalists have a legitimate shot. The level of enthusiasm within the state has impressed and surprised him.
”College is college, it’s just the playstyle (that’s different),” he said. “Every college is the same in North Carolina. UNC has crazy fans, N.C. State has crazy fans, the fans are amazing in North Carolina. There’s times I’m walking in Crabtree Mall and guys recognize me. That’s shocking to me.”
Alkins currently ranks No. 20 in the Class of 2016 and projects as one of UNC’s enduring targets as the Tar Heels focus on a strong close to the cycle next spring.