Thursday, June 12, 2014

Nwankwo Buried In High-Major Interest

Jonathon Nwankwo speaks softly with a thick African drawl, but numerous Division-I programs are carrying a big stick/torch for the 6-foot-9, 225-pound junior from Monsignor Scanlan.

Nwankwo, a force who has debilitated bigs on the low blocks with his ability to block, influence, manipulate, and alter the trajectory of shots, has become one of the most aggressively pursued products on New York's recruiting agora.

His interest has catapulted to the high majors. Coaches throughout the nation are beginning to keep close tabs on his production tree and thorough improvement. 

"Minnesota, Tennessee, Stanford, Northwestern, Northeastern, Boston College, there's a lot of them." said Nwankwo, pointing out those in persistent pursuit.

"I'm just neutral right now, I like all of them."

Minnesota has been active since Day One, developing a rapport with Nwankwo and his inner circle.

Former New Heights head honcho Kimani Young, one of the city's most noble and notable harvesters of young talent, is an assistant under  head coach Richard Pitino.

Young's New York credibility and general support of Nwankwo, evident from the early phases of his recruitment, has been promising. 

 Nwankwo has spent much of the last four months expanding his overall basketball package, looking to become a more adept scorer.

Under Scanlan coach Dwayne Mitchell, the former coach at now-defunct Rice, Nwankwo entered the season as a work-in-progress offensively.

Though still shaping into a dependable offensive threat, Nwankwo has been powering up and finishing with authority on the AAU circuit. 

When Nwankwo walked into tryouts for Hudson Valley's BCANY team last night, a few perplexed parents wondered what a grown man was doing trying out for a high school summer team. 

That mature, muscle-bound and enforcer body type renders him a beast amongst boys at this level. Incorporating an arsenal of effective post moves has morphed Nwankwo into a more explosive piece in the paint.

 In addition to his above-the-rim game, Nwankwo's drop step and jump hook prepared him for a more prominent scoring role.

Andy Borman, Nwankwo's coach with House of Sports on the AAU circuit, describes him as a "no brainer" recruit, citing character traits appealing for D-I programs from the ACC to the Ivys.

"He's a low-maintenance, self-driven, responsible, high-character kid," Borman said.

"So, you kind of put that all together and you're looking at a kid who could help you're program. He has little to no risk."

How coachable is this kid?

"He's a sponge," Borman explained.

"He wants to get better. I personally think the kid is a ball of clay. He is vastly improved from mid-March to June. I think he'll continue to improve from June to August. And then there's this year, and then there's the three years after that. He's getting better."

Borman said that Nwankwo's 75 percent free throw shooting is a crucial X-factor that's bolstered his stock.

 In a world where plenty behemoths of Nwankwo's style are bricklaying specialists from the free throw line, Nwankwo' s soft touch helps sustain good possessions rather than waste away points with more collective clanks than Shaq and Chris Dudley.

Beyond Minnesota, Borman noted Virginia Commonwealth, Vanderbilt, Rice, Georgia Tech, Alabama, St. Joseph's and "many more" are suddenly showing interest.

 Borman didn't want to do a disservice to any program by failing to mention them, so he placed extra emphasis on "many more."

If Nwankwo's efficiency continues and his offensive game continues to flower, the interest will only skyrocket.