Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Abdul Malik Abu's College Choice Still a Mystery

Larry Lucchino was fond of saying, "There are no secrets in baseball."

The same can usually be said in the world of college basketball, particularly when it comes to recruiting. While players like to hold press conferences where they reveal the hat of the school they're choosing, or simply make the announcement on Twitter, usually their decisions are pretty well-known by that time.

But that's not the case with Abdul Malik Abu and Jared Terrell, who will announce their college decisions on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. Rarely has there been so much intrigue and speculation about a decision by a prep player, particularly in the case of Abu. While Terrell's decision is far from certain, the growing speculation is that he'll go and play for Danny Hurley at URI, where the 6-foot-4 guard could see playing time immediately.

But Abu is an entirely different story, and it's his story that UConn fans are solely interested in (the Huskies didn't make Terrell's final four and, in fact, UConn never seriously recruited him. Kevin Ollie watched him play a lot this summer, but only because he was on Abu's AAU team).

Abu's final four schools are UConn, Florida, Providence and NC State, and depending on which recruiting "pundit" you talk to (or which fan base's message board you read), the 6-8 power forward could end up at any of the four.

For its part, UConn has no idea whether or not Abu will reveal a Husky cap on Saturday afternoon. There is a line of thinking that Florida could have a slight edge, as influences close to Abu seem to be pulling for the Gators (and late Tuesday came word that Abu may be at Florida right now for a visit). But that is pure speculation at this point, and if nothing changes over the next few days, his choice on Saturday will be a complete surprise.

Again, this doesn't happen very often. With AAU and high school coaches, friends, "influences," family members, etc., usually some sort of word gets out about where a kid's likely to go. Case in point: Pascal Chukwu, the Fairfield Prep 7-footer who announced via Twitter last week that he'll be taking his talents to PC, kept his recruitment famously close to the vest. But even at the time of his announcement, it was pretty much assumed he would go to either PC or St. Joseph's, two small, Catholic schools where his guardian (an Iona alum) felt Chukwu would be more comfortable. Heck, his guardian's niece is a captain on the PC soccer team.

While UConn certainly wanted Chukwu, it had seemed pretty obvious from the start that the Huskies weren't going to land him. He never even got to Storrs for an unofficial visit (just to Hartford for a few games).

Abu is a different story. UConn obviously wants Abu, a desperately-needed physical, rebounding power forward who now attends Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire. The question is, does he want UConn? No one knows, or at least no one's saying.

If the Huskies miss on Abu, their hopes will likely lie in Paul White, a versatile 6-9 forward out of Chicago, or Bonzie Colson, Jr., a 6-5 (maybe) forward out of New Bedford, Mass. and St. Andrew's School.

White listed UConn among his final five, along with Arizona, DePaul, Minnesota and Georgetown. But according to a report, White is re-opening his recruitment, as more schools are showing interest in him. As of now, he's still planning on visiting Storrs on Sept. 27.

Colson, who made an unofficial to UConn back in June, has called the Huskies a "dream school." He will make an official visit to Storrs on Oct. 11-13. He visited Pitt over the past weekend and also is slated to go to Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami, as well.

He's also a vastly undersized power forward, but he has the will and the motor to be a successful college player -- an overachiever that could fit well in the Ollie mold.

(For those wondering about Terry Larrier, who visited UConn recently, he is viewed strictly as a small forward, not a power forward).

UConn missed on Chukwu. It could miss on Abu, White and Colson. If so, it would likely be viewed as a disaster. But it's easy to forget that the Huskies have already added Daniel Hamilton, a national top-50 recruit, and Rodney Purvis, an NC State transfer and former McDonald's All-American, for the 2014-15 season. And they will continue to monitor and recruit Hamilton this season as if he hasn't committed.

One more thing to add: the entire recruiting process has really gotten silly. Sillier than ever, it seems. The idea that fans -- grown men, usually -- would post on message boards or, worse, send Tweets to recruits begging them to come to the school they root for is beyond ridiculous. That they'll rip these kids -- 17 and 18-year-old kids, we might add -- if they don't choose their school is infantile and sickening. It's like they're personally insulted if a kid doesn't pick their team.

Yes, as a member of the media, I suppose I'm part of the same hypocrisy. I follow many recruits on Twitter and try to contact them and their parents or coaches from time to time to see where their decision process is at. It's part of the job -- not one I always feel particularly good about -- but obviously something that has to be done in this day and age.

But lately, I've had people ask me to predict where Abu is going to go. Sorry, I don't get into the game of predicting what's going on in the minds of any 17 or 18-year-old kid, much less one I've never met. I'll leave that to others.

Anyway, we'll all find out on Saturday at 3 p.m. Should be interesting.



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2 Comments:

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