Rutgers basketball continues its success internationally, and found another hard-working ball handler with Thursday afternoon's commitment from guard Souf Mensah.
By way of Nantes, France and the Canarias Basketball Academy, Mensah has sophomore eligibility this season at Marshaltown (Iowa) Community College. He committed to Rutgers and coach Steve Pikiell as the second member of the 2017 class.
“I loved the school and I loved the facilities,” Mensah said. “It's a very big school, but I'm going to be honest with you. The most important thing was when I saw myself in the gym. I saw myself in the locker room and I just knew. This was the choice. I saw myself there as a player and the decision was easy to make.”
On Mensah's official visit, he bonded with former Canarias teammate Issa Thiam.
“We spent the day talking and meeting the guys,” he said. “We were roommates at CBA, so he's family. It was great to spend the day together. Everything was great, and I said to myself that I should come there. We went to the gym at night and I set foot on the floor and I loved it.”
Mensah called Pikiell his lead recruiter. He also has a relationship with staff member Greg “Shoes” Vetrone, who has strong ties to CBA.
“Coach Pikiell was my main guy but Shoes was part of the decision.” Mensah said. “When you go to CBA, you're like a family after. I feel more comfortable knowing that Shoes is there, but coach Pikiell recruited me the hardest. He said he loved me in my practices and games. Coach Pikiell came to my game, too.”
Mensah said he will sign with Rutgers in spring and enroll in May for summer classes.
“I'm going to spend the summer there,” Mensah said. “I can learn a lot from coach Pikiell. Now that I've been to their court, I know his vision. I know why he wants me, and I know why I want him to coach me. Now we just have to be on the floor together and see how we're going to do it together with me as a point guard and finding the guys, find how they want to play and make them make plays.”
Mensah projects as a point guard. Alongside guard Geo Baker in 2017, the two guards allow for more versatility and scoring threats in next season's rotation that already has plenty of guard experience.
Mensah considers him a pass-first player with strong European influences.
“I've learned a lot,” Mensah said. “Coming from Europe, I liked to play fast and push the ball and I always had that in me but when I came here, the game was different. There's a lot of 1-on-1 with guys. What I can bring to Rutgers is the European style mixed with the American style. I've learned a lot about the best of both.
“My coaches did a great job with me to help me see the game and learn to watch a lot of film. I'm watching film and being a leader. I just want everybody in the gym to be on the same page. If we're on the same page, everything is going to be alright.”
Mensah averaged 9.1 points and 2.8 assists per game in his first year in the United States. He shot 47 percent from the floor.