Chol a 'must-get' recruit

As "must get" recruits go, that label pretty much sums up the University of Washington's recruitment of forward Angelo Chol. Ranked the 46th best player in the country by, the San Diego, Calif. star is set to visit Washington this weekend, and for Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar, the stakes couldn't be higher.

Chol is one of the more intriguing prospects in the country for the 2011 recruiting class. Checking in at an imposing 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, the Sudan native is one of those rare "perfect fits" for Lorenzo Romar's system. Blessed with an impressive 82-inch wingspan, Chol is a monster in the paint. During his senior season at Hoover High, Chol has put up some mind-bending numbers, averaging 24 points, 14.6 rebounds and an astounding 8.1 blocks per game.

No longer a raw, offensively limited post, the skilled lefty now showcases a polished right handed hook shot, and an expanded shooting range from the elbow extending to beyond the three-point arc. The blocks-per-game statistic isn't a misprint; his shot blocking instincts are truly top-notch. Athletically speaking, Chol mixes explosive first step with surprisingly quick feet that belie his size. Like UW bigs Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'diaye, Chol runs the floor extremely well.

Hence the "perfect fit" tag.

It isn't easy finding forwards with the requisite combination of skill, size, athleticism, and defensive instincts to exceed in Washington's high-pressure, high-rewards system. The handful of prospects that do fit the bill are typically coveted by the biggest programs in the country, and Chol is no different. It's a big reason why recruiting post depth has been such a challenge for Romar; it's also why - on the rare occasion when they do come along - the Huskies need to take advantage of this opportunity.

By the time Chol is set to announce his college decision on Thursday, February 17th, he will have officially visited Alabama, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona, and finally Washington.

As a show of their intent, Washington planned it so Chol's final official visit would be to Washington. Before his official visit to Arizona, it was believed the Huskies were a slight favorite to earn his letter of intent; after his trip to Tucson, the tables were turned. Now Washington gets that one chance to really plant that final seed in Chol's mind just days before his decision. To help them, UW also planned the official visits of their two local commits - Tony Wroten and Hikeem Stewart - to coincide with Chol's trip to the Emerald City.

As the Washington roster stands next season, the Huskies will be a talented, but imbalanced group. Romar has assembled an astounding collection of guards as deep as any Pac-10 team in recent memory, led by star Isaiah Thomas. Even if Thomas decides on a move toward a pro career, Washington can count on the services of former top-50 blue chippers Abdul Gaddy, Terrence Ross, and Scott Suggs, as well as sharpshooter C.J. Wilcox. To add to his mix of returning stars, Romar has already signed freshman phenom Wroten, who is expected to challenge for a starting role, as well as two more quality point guard prospects – Rainier Beach's Stewart, and one of the west coast's biggest sleeper recruits, Andrew Andrews from Benson Tech in Portland.

Unfortunately, the front-court situation isn't nearly as encouraging for the Huskies. Matthew Bryan-Amaning's matriculation leaves Washington with a gaping crater in the middle of their starting lineup – and only one obvious solution as to how to fill it. Aziz N'Daiye will undoubtedly be UW's anchor in the paint, but offensively, the Huskies are in trouble. Returners Darnell Gant and redshirt frosh Desmond Simmons are capable defenders, but they aren't post-up players on offense. Same goes for wafer thin 6-foot-10 Louisiana signee Jernard Jarreau, who on paper looks to be a lanky outside-in offensive prospect.

Now you can see why earning Chol's signature on a letter of intent is so important for Washington. The same can be said of Arizona, who will likely lose Derrick Williams to the NBA after the 'Cats forward has had a season worthy of being Pac-10 Player of the Year. It's a true feeding frenzy for Chol, but UW fans should be encouraged; they get the last bite.

From a playing time perspective, Chol can pretty much write his own ticket at Washington. He'll have to earn it of course – Lorenzo Romar doesn't guarantee starting jobs to anyone, even to freshman as talented as Chol. But realistically speaking, there's a starting job at the power forward spot waiting, as well as all of the back-up minutes his stamina and foul situation can stand backing up N'Daiye at center. That's how badly Washington needs him.

Chol has identified the 17th as the day he'll announce his decision. He's generally been quiet publically regarding his recruitment, giving away few hints about his leanings. What is known is that he's pared down his list to three finalists - Washington, Arizona and Kansas - though it's generally believed that Arizona and Washington are the favorites.

Stay tuned to as the clock winds down on one of the most important recruitments in the Lorenzo Romar era.

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