With a big wingspan, lots of bounce and the ability to play multiple positions, Esa Ahamd is the sort of player who can make the difference in a league like the Big 12.
WHAT TO LIKE:
Ahmad is going to inspire comparisons to former Mountaineer Devin Ebanks, and there's obviously a lot to like there. Although he's 6-8, he can handle the ball well, and could even run the offense at times in the future, or bring the ball upcourt against pressure, just as Ebanks did at WVU. More importantly, he's an excellent passer, and sees the floor very well. He drives the ball at the rim aggressively, but keeps his head up and makes the right pass at the right time.
When it comes to scoring, he's also multi-dimensional. Off the dribble, he's tough to defend. He can take the ball to the hoop and scoop shots over defenders with his long reach, but he can also pull up and hit from the mid-range. Defenses that pack it in against him will also pay the price, as he can score from beyond the arc. He doesn't shy away from contact, and can shrug off foes that try to mug and grab him.
All that is good, but his rebounding might stand out as the best aspect of his game. He hits the boards hard, and has the knack of anticipating where the ball is going off the rim. With his long arms and good leaping ability, he can develop into a tremendous board man.
At the risk of overhyping Ahamd, there aren't a lot of glaring holes in his game. He'll need to continue to work to make his outside jumper more consistent, and if he wants to play at the two position he will have to be more smooth with the ball, but all of the fundamentals are there. His frame has the ability to handle 15-20 more pounds, and if he's not shy about the weight room he will have the chance to be a dominant college player.
"I love that program," Ahmad said of WVU earlier this year. "Me and Coach Huggins talk all the time. He is trying to recruit me at the two. I just love the program, the coaching staff, and the players."
That pretty much sums up the reasons Ahmad committed, and it's not likely anything will change in that regard. His rapport with Huggins, and the presence of fellow Ohioans Juwan Staten, Devin Williams and Elijah Macon (two of which played for the same AAU program as Ahmad) helped make him very comfortable on his visits to the WVU program. On the floor, Ahamd fills the wing gap that existed on the future roster, and combines with guard James Bolden and post Levi Cook to make an extremely balanced Class of 2015. Ahmad could end up playing the two, three or four at times, and has the versatility to create mismatches depending on how opponents try to play him.
On the intangible level, it's also a big plus for WVU to grab the player that it had targeted the most intently once it got its first two members of the class aboard. Had Ahmad gone elsewhere, the Mountaineer program wouldn't have folded, but it would have been a disappointment. His commitment lays what could be a very strong foundation for Mountaineer teams of the late 2010s.