January 11, 2013

Mali natives key to N.Y. high school

The new age of big men is long, athletic and booming with potential, and the Mali natives of Our Savior New American (N.Y.) are proving their value early on as underclassmen.

In 2015 6-foot-9 power forward Cheick Diallo and 2016 6-foot-7 power forward Kassoum Yakwe, there aren't many better 1-2 frontcourt punches in high school basketball.

Both play for Team Scan on the AAU scene, and the Mali imports are blowing up on the scene after gaining most of their exposure in the summer.

Diallo is a long and athletic post player who rebounds, runs the floor and has elite hands. His offensive skills in the post are coming along as he now has moves to get to the basket and finish around the rim.

This is a huge improvement for Diallo, who had a reputation similar to a longer Chris Obekpa -- now a freshman at St. John's.

Pittsburgh, St. John's, Arizona, UConn, Rutgers, Seton Hall, Iowa State, Texas, Oregon, Washington, Auburn, West Virginia, Syracuse, UNLV and Providence have offered him, according to Our Savior New American assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch.

Kentucky, a school that seemed to intrigue Diallo quite a bit, is showing interest. As he has been on the St. John's campus a few times to visit his friend, Obekpa, the sophomore stud can essentially write his ticket to go anywhere he wants.

The same goes for Yakwe, although he's not as tall. Similar to current Indiana signee Noah Vonleh, the freshman has excellent footwork and post moves. He blocks shots and can step out to shoot it from mid-range. A pretty good face-up lefty hook may be the most enjoyable part of his game as it is tough to stop.

Offers from Pittsburgh, St. John's, Auburn, UNLV, Oregon, Iowa State and Providence are in for him, while North Carolina and Kentucky are interested in the high-motor star in the making.

While both are young and accomplished, OSNA has a very talented, and under the radar, class of 2014 combo forward.

At 6-foot-8, Mike Nzei may be their biggest weapon as the member of the U18 Nigerian National team is from the same place in Nigeria as Obekpa.

He can bang down low to grab offensive rebounds, and has a soft shooting touch. His perimeter defense is excellent as he has a knack at hustling and and being an all-around team player.

Old Dominion and Iona have offered, but more should come soon as Nebraska, St. John's, Minnesota, Iowa State and Auburn are interested.

His skills could make him a high-major recruit for Our Savior New American, to go along with Diallo and Yakwe.




 

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