The past weeks have been eventful for Joel Ntambwe, a versatile and unheralded 6-foot-8 guard/forward who has been on Providence’s radar from the very beginning. Ntambwe has witnessed his mid-major stock suddenly catapult to the high-major market.
Programs such as Florida State and Tennessee and Cal have suddenly been in aggressive pursuit of the ultra-athletic and heady Ntambwe. The Class of 2018 recruit has steadily increased his overall scoring aptitude while plying his trade at the point forward position and tightening up his handle.
“I think I will know which school I’m going to and decide by the end of December (of 2017),” said Ntambwe, who is currently playing AAU with Team Loaded in North Carolina.
“The school which shows me the most interest and the school which I’m most comfortable with is going to be the one I choose. I still have a lot of the same teams recruiting me. I am waiting until after July and the live period to cut down my list. I’m wide open right now and not turning anyone away. I don’t have any visits on the schedule I’m just playing basketball.”
Ntambwe’s ability to adapt to multiple positions and guard multiple positions has rendered him an enticing threat at the next level.
“I’m going to play the three for team Loaded but they are going to have me all over the court pretty much,” Ntambwe said. I can play from the two to the four. Sometimes they will have me at the two, sometimes the three. They are just going to give me the freedom to play how I know how to play.”
Partly at his relationship with Ed Cooley and partly at Providence’s consistency in his recruitment, Ntambwe the Friars appear to be a front-runner in his recruitment. Though Ntambwe skipped out on an official visit, the Friars appear to be a serious potential suitor for the still-developing guard/forward.
On June 3rd Ntambwe will take the SAT and look to earn eligibility as a Class of 2018 recruit.
There was originally talk of Ntambwe—who played a post-graduate schedule this year at Forrest Trail Academy in North Carolina—classifying as a 2017 recruit and making a decision as soon as he gains eligibility. His guardian, Dave Caputo, debunked that hearsay on Thursday.
“He’s going to be in the Class of 2018,” said Caputo, who rattled off Providence, Florida State, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wake Forest as programs who have been in active pursuit.
“He’s going to play another year of high school, which should help him continue to generate exposure and also keep him relevant on the high-major market. He’s got all the tools to be successful and also be a steal just because he doesn’t have the same high-ranking and publicity as guys that he’s just as skilled as or in some cases better.”
Ntambwe, who said he likely will not be returning to Forrest Trail (N.C.), has lauded Cooley in the past.
Florida State has jumped into the scene lately, trying to woo one of the nation’s most underrated young prospects as a Class of 2018 recruit. Ntambwe said Tulsa has also been a recent presence in his recruitment.
Just three years ago, Ntambwe was in Africa taping his workouts on Youtube and trying to get the maximized opportunity that comes with playing in the United States. Because he doesn’t attend a brand name school and have the same heavy exposure and fanfare as more notable highly-touted recruits, Ntambwe could be regarded as a sleeper. Through his play on the live period, he will look to change that.
“Right now I’m just in the gym close to three times a day working,” said Ntambwe. “I start at 9 a.m. with lifting. I have a trainer who pushes me through all of that. After that training, we have a shoot around drill that I’m always doing. Around 3 p.m., I go back in just to work on basic stuff and get my game better. I’m just working out on my three-point shooting and trying to get more consistent.”