Thursday, May 4, 2017

Ntambwe To Narrow Down List

Several key changes have enabled Forest Trail Academy (N.C). guard/forward Joel Ntambwe to surge from unheralded recruit to a major priority for Providence, Wichita State, Florida State, and a handful of others.

For one, Ntambwe packed significant muscle onto a once twig-thin frame. Playing with much-needed manpower has allowed the 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward to take smaller defenders right to the post and attack the rim consistently.

Adapting to the point forward position, employing a jack of all trades mentality on the court and displaying rarified pinpoint passing ability has been equally critical in Ntambwe's development.

"The thing that helped me the most was confronting the fact that I wasn't very strong at first," said Ntambwe, who is now scoring at all three levels and leading the break.

"My trainers and several other people just pushed me in the weight room non-stop. They helped me work on my upper body strength. I was able to increase my strength and footwork and continue to work away at ball-handling and my shot."

Ntambwe was quick to cite his mid-range game as a pivotal component of his development. Creating his own shot and gaining a dependable 3-point shot has rendered the versatile Class of 2018 Ntambwe a steady scoring threat.

Providence, active in his recruitment well earlier than most, appears to be the front runner for Ntambwe's multi-layered services.

Wichita State, Florida State, Wake Forest, Tennessee, and Arkansas have also been in consistent pursuit. Cal and Kansas have each jumped in the mix, as Ntambwe explained.

"In Joel, you have a kid who is really a Lamar Odom type in that he can put the ball on the floor and create," said Dave Caputo, Ntambwe's legal guardian.

"He's a special player because he can play multiple positions. I think what coach (Ed) Cooley and other coaches who are recruiting him hard are impressed with is the way he can pass the ball and create. He's a heady player between his ears and he's shown a real confident feel for the point forward position."

In Ntambwe, his guardian's words echoed completely.

"Right now to be honest, I don't classify myself as one position," Ntambwe said. "Especially because I feel I can play it all. I can play from the one through the four. At the next level, I'm probably going to be playing the two or the three. But hey, I am comfortable bringing the ball up and directing the game at the point."

Cooley appears to have a tight bond with the steadily-rising recruit.

"Ed Cooley is one of the best coaches around and he's one of the best coaches I know," Ntambwe said.

"Coach Cooley, he's one of the best personal motivators. He cares about me off the court as much as he does on it. He wants what is best for me as a person first and as a basketball player second."

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, who inked a new contract extension through the 2019-2020 campaign, has been an aggressive presence in Ntambwe's recruitment as of late.

"Oh yeah, Coach Ham is great people," Ntambwe said.

"FSU has really been recruiting me hard and staying on me. Right now, I am taking everything one step at a time. I am still wide open. Soon, I'll look to shorten my list and go from there."