Wednesday, August 30, 2017

SCS Big Man Coulibaly Attracting High-Majors

Growing up in Mali, Africa, soccer was king. That’s how 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward Karim Coulibaly, now plying his hoops trade in the United States, best describes it. Soccer was the country’s favorite pastime and a major tool for community engagement. The sport helped integrate an area that’s divided as far as socioeconomic status.

Naturally, Coulibaly developed an affinity for the game. By the time he reached middle school, however, both his brothers and his older sister had taken up basketball. Undergoing a massive growth spurt before ninth grade, Coulibaly’s family urged him to give up soccer for basketball.

“My older brothers and sister, they both played for the national team (in basketball),” the Class of 2019 Coulibaly said.

“They were doing things I never could have imagined, traveling on airplanes and going to different countries and playing in big tournaments. They said because of my height, I needed to start playing. Otherwise I am wasting my time. So, I played both soccer and basketball and then went to basketball fully.

Though perceived as raw, Coulibaly picked up the game in relatively quick fashion. Mid-way through his freshman year of high school, his first year in the United States, Coulibaly was averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds under coach Dennis Murphy at St. Vincent Palloti. Bolstered by natural instinctive defensive play and a knack for grabbing boards, his offensive game slowly developed as well. Now, after becoming more of an efficient threat as an all-around scorer, Coulibaly enters Scotland Campus Sports (Pa.) entertaining a high scoring role.

“My shot has developed a lot,” said Coulibaly, a lefty with considerable range and a dependable 18-20 foot jumper. This year, I’m going to be about offense more. Last year, I started to get post moves and a back to the basket game. Now I can shoot, post up, and defensively I can guard bigs and the wing.”

Coulibaly, who visited Rutgers this past off-season, has begun to tip the high-major scales. St. John’s, Providence, Rutgers, Miami, West Virginia, Tulane, DePaul, and several others have offered the face up four-man. He opened plenty of eyes this summer with a number of double-doubles on the AAU circuit, including a 17-point, 10-board performance in South Carolina.

Coulibaly said St. John’s, Rutgers, and Providence are currently in the heaviest pursuit of him. He is currently focusing on those three in particular, though this year will likely propel him into more offers. Wake Forest has recently inquired about Coulibaly. Crafty around the rim and now possessing deft ball-handling ability and more confidence putting the ball on the deck, Coulibaly oozes of multi-layered potential.

St. John’s has been on him the hardest, with assistant coach and dogged recruiter Matt Abdelmassih jockeying for front-runner status.

“Coach Matt (Abdelmassih) at St. John’s, he’s the coach I talk to the most,” said Coulibaly. “We talk a lot. He trusts me like I am his son. He’s always making sure everything is good with me and giving me advice. We have a good relationship. I think he’s a great guy. He’s a coach who cares about his players overall.”

Coulibaly is a major component of the international flavor at Scotland Campus Sports this season. The program also features 7-foot-1 Cameroon big man Ari Boya, Amsterdam native and sharpshooter Lawrence Slim, as well as 6-foot-8 guard/forward Joel Ntambwe from the Congo.