February 26, 2013

Craig a long-standing Boilermaker target





Purdue's cast a wide net for big men for its 2014 recruiting class, with center Jabari Craig being one of those targets who's been pursued the longest.

Purdue was the first major school to seriously recruit the 6-foot-11 Canadian, who's going to high school in Georgia.

"They've probably been recruiting him the longest," said Vidal Massiah, Craig's AAU coach. ".... Once spring starts, they'll be at his games and they'll keep shooting him a lot of love. I'm pretty sure at some point he'll visit Purdue."

Purdue offered a scholarship long ago.

Massiah said many others have followed.

"We hear from Indiana a lot, Auburn a lot, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Charlotte, Georgia, Ohio State," Massiah said, referring to some schools who've offered and some who've not. "We've seen a couple twice. We're focusing on the Southeast a lot (for visits). Clemson, Wake Forest, pretty much all the ACC and SEC schools."

Craig, who's expected to relocate next season to a yet-to-be-determined prep school, might make an official visit to Purdue, but it won't happen during this season - not that many opportunities remain - due to Georgia's high school basketball scheduling patterns.

One could happen in the fall, however.

Craig, ranked No. 119 nationally in the Class of 2014 by Rivals.com, is 6-10, about 215 pounds or so, with outstanding length, athleticism and running ability for his size.

At this stage of his development, he's further along defensively.

"This is his first real team, so just the feel of the game that comes every day," Massiah said of Tucker High School's team. "His free throw shooting has been amazing for a guy his size, probably around 80 percent. Staying out of foul trouble too.

"Offensively he has just not been involved with this team, but he's had his moments. I think he'll be able to showcase his offense a lot more in the summer because he will be a focal point. But I think just the feel of the game (improves) every day, whether in a real game or in practice. I think he's really learned the lifestyle, if that makes any sense."

Due to his height and length, Craig will project as a potential shot-blocking threat at the next level.

As his offensive game develops - right now, his best attributes might be a short hook shot and his ability to run the floor - he'll look to get bigger and strong, as well, to help on the boards and as a scorer in the post.

"There's been a lot of weight-lifting with the team, so he's very strong," said Massiah, who's also Craig's trainer. "His body is probably the same in terms of looks, but he's pretty strong. I think once the season's over he'll hit the weight room and really start to prepare for the summer. So by spring, I think we'll see a lot of improvement in his body."




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