Mountain Man?

The Hoop Group West Virginia Jam Fest AAU tournament in Morgantown gave 5-star Class of 2012 center Daniel Ochefu the chance to check out the home town of a school that has been recruiting him for some time now. The Westtown, Pa., native said he liked what he saw.

"I came to the campus for the first time, and I just love the atmosphere here," said Ochefu. "I was at the Coliseum earlier for registration, and it's a beautiful gym. I saw the new practice facility, and it looked really good."

"[Morgantown] was kind of what I expected, but I didn't expect it to be as nice as what it was. It's kind of like West Chester, Pa."

That, and the fact that Ochefu told the Morgantown Dominion Post that WVU was at the top of his list should give Mountaineer fans reason to be optimistic about their chances to secure the 6-foot-10 center's services.

But Ochefu clarified Thursday that West Virginia is "near the top" of his list and is not necessarily the school to beat. Head coach Bob Huggins will have to beat out a host of other teams to win the recruiting battle for Ochefu, including Georgetown, James Madison, Kentucky, Rutgers, Temple, Villanova and Virginia, among others.

But Huggins and assistant coach Billy Hahn (a familiar face and name to those from Ochefu's home town, a suburb of Philadelphia) may have a leg up because they were one of the first schools to recruit Ochefu.

"And their academics are also outstanding," said Ochefu, continuing to list the reasons why the Mountaineers rank high on his list. "They had the top GPA [among men's basketball teams in the Big East], I think. And also, the coaches. It's a good system and everything."

But that doesn't mean the No. 3 center in the rankings for the Class of 2012 will be committing any time soon.

"I'm still just open right now," Ochefu said. "I'm just trying to finish up the summer strong."

"I mean, the best decision to me is just going to come to me. I'll know when I find the right school, it's just going to click and I'm going to pick it. But I don't know when that's going to be."

Whoever ultimately lands the services of the center will get a raw talent with all the physical attributes to be a major player at the college level. His frame is long and lanky, and it can easily support more weight once he gets into a college strength program.

Even without the muscle he will almost certainly gain throughout college, Ochefu is already strong. He can be a bull in the lane when he wants to be, passes well for a big man and doesn't force things.

Like many big men of his age, his inside game lacks polish. But once his footwork improves and he develops a bit more aggressiveness and confidence in his back-to-the-basket game, the sky is the limit.

"I'm a good passer, and I have a developing post game," Ochefu said, when asked to evaluate his own game. "I feel like I do well on the break. But I have to work on my explosiveness and agility."

"[I need to work on] my shooting and my post moves, especially playing with my back to the basket. I feel like if I want to be a dominant post player, inside and out, I have to first conquer my post moves with my back to the basket."

After attending the Nike Hoop Jamboree and the Amare Stoudemire camp earlier this summer, Ochefu was scheduled to be part of the LeBron James Skills Academy. But an ankle injury held him out of action. Now, he is playing AAU events like the Jam Fest event in Morgantown.

Instead of joining a powerhouse AAU team like many prospects do, Ochefu and his high school teammates are playing together as Westtown. Ochefu said he hopes the summer work helps develop team chemistry that will pay off in this upcoming season.

The squad won its three-team pool in the opening day of competition at Jam Fest, but was bounced from championship contention in its first game of day two with a mercy-rule (down by 30 points with under 2:00 remaining) defeat at the hands of Team Philly 2012.

Team Philly 2012 is led by fellow star recruit Amile Jefferson, who is also being heavily courted by the Mountaineers and several other colleges that are also after Ochefu.

While the big center didn't like taking a beating at the hands of Jefferson and Team Philly, he did enjoy the chance to play against Jefferson, a player who could potentially be a teammate of Ochefu down the road.

"We also play in the same league in Pennsylvania, so we have a lot of competition between us," said Ochefu of Jefferson. "It's really good competition. I'd love to play with him."

Mountaineer fans, of course, would also love to see both of the highly-ranked prospects suiting up in the old gold and blue.

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