Monday, August 7, 2017

Rhode Island, UNLV The Latest To Offer Ntambwe

Rhode Island and UNLV have recently offered 6-foot-8, 205-pound Joel Ntambwe.

A multi-layered Class of 2018 prospect, Ntambwe will play his senior year at Scotland Campus Sports in Scotland, Pa.

Rhode Island assistant Tom Moore and head coach Dan Hurley have been intrigued with Ntambwe, who has the potential to be a jack of all trades at that level.

UNLV assistant Andre Lafleur, who recruited countless hybrid forwards of Ntambwe's type under Jim Calhoun at UConn, envisions a unique threat.

Providence, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wichita State, Wake Forest, and a handful of others are vying for Ntambwe's services.

"For Joel, it is really a matter of more reps, because the talent is certainly there," said Rens Executive Director Andy Borman, instrumental in the development of prized recruits such as Hamidou Diallo (Kentucky), Rawle Alkins (Arizona), Jordan Tucker (Duke), and Jose Alvarado (Georgia Tech).

"I think the biggest thing he can present is the opportunity to be multi-positional. Versatility is king. I think Joel can be a Justice Winslow type of recruit where he has to ask himself, ' Am I a guard? Am I forward? It doesn't even matter because I'm kicking your butt out there.' I mean Winslow, he even played some center for the Miami Heat. It is hard to define it in one role. If I was recruiting Joel, that's the way I would look at it. The kid could eventually become a matchup nightmare."

Ntambwe said the major adjustments in his improvement have been gaining muscle, scoring at all three levels, snaring rebounds, and scoring hustle points.

"Last year, the main thing was confronting the fact that I just wasn't very strong at first," explained Ntambwe.

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

Investing more focus into his mid-range game while simultaneously turning his outside shot from a work in progress to a reliable tool have been equally critical for Ntambwe.

"Right now, I don't classify myself as one position," Ntambwe said. "I like to think I can play every position and bring that mentality with me when I'm on the court. I like to be the 'Mr. Everything type."

Ntambwe morphed into Mr. Everything on the smurf-small court at Our Lady of Mercy in Port Chester this past spring. In the historic CYP tournament, Ntambwe scored 22 points and left his fingerprints on virtually every category of the stat book.

Just three years ago, Ntambwe was making personal YouTube videos of his daily workouts. It was all in effort to attract prep school coaches in the U.S. and earn a scholarship opportunity. Now he's making the game a livelihood.

Another program which has recently become involved with Ntambwe is Iona. The New Rochelle campus is located just 20 minutes from where Ntambwe lives with his host family.

Gaels Associate Head Coach Jared Grasso, widely regarded as one of the top mid-major recruiters in the country, has been consistent. Providence has been in pursuit from the very beginning, with Ed Cooley impressed with the way Ntambwe sees the floor and passes.

"With Joel you've got a kid who has a skill set that's very high," said Iona Prep head coach Steve Alvarado, who coached Ntambwe throughout the summer.

"He can go to either side, he's got pretty good vision when he handles the ball. When he rebounds the ball effectively he can bust out of the pack and that puts tremendous pressure on the defense. Really, it's up to him if he's going to be an ACC level recruit. If he puts the work in and gets strong enough, it can be done. At Scotland Campus, he's going to be held accountable. If he takes to it, which I think he will because he's immersed in it, he's going to explode.

Borman said that this year will be a considerable barometer of what level Ntambwe's game is tailor made for.

"It helps that he's going to play in Scotland for a guy like Chris Chaney who really knows what he's doing," Borman said.

"It's going to be a matter of tuning him up and getting him ready made for the collegiate level."