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Abdul-Malik Abu adding offers along with an improved post-game

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HAMPTON, Va. — When I saw Abdul Malik Abu play at the Hoop Group Summer Classic East last July, you could see that the 6-foot-8, 230 pound power forward had the athleticism and the frame to one day be a valuable piece in a top 25 program.

But at that point in time, the No. 50 recruit in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals, wasn’t much more than an athlete with a motor. He was big and strong and coordinated, and had no problem getting physical on the defensive end or crashing the glass. While that’s a skill that college coaches appreciate and value, Abu’s offensive game left much to be desired.

Nine months later, and it’s clear that Abu has been putting in the work. His post game is still built around his strength and physicality, but he showed off a nice jump-hook going over his left shoulder and a drop-step going over his right shoulder. Abu was patient in the post as well, showing an understanding of where a double-team was coming from and passing out of it.

It’s something that he’s been working on with his coaches.

“I’m just trying to stay as versatile as possible,” he said. “I’ve been working out a lot and my coaches are trying to get me to be more back-to-the-basket savvy. I have the athleticism, but skill is what lasts the longest.”

The next step for Abu is continuing to improve his perimeter shot, which is already coming along nicely. He was 6-10 from three in five games at the Nike EYBL Hampton.

“I’ve been working on that a lot” Abu said. “Not really thinking about it, because I know I can do it. I have the ability, but really working on knocking down the shot as consistently as possible.”

The best of the best have taken notice, as Abu added offers from Kansas, Texas, NC State and Minnesota this weekend. According to Abu, Florida, Kansas State, Iowa State, Maryland, UConn, Providence, Wisconsin and Miami have been coming at him the hardest recently. He holds offers from every one of those programs. Wisconsin is the only school to visit him, as Bo Ryan and his assistants came to his school, Kimball Union Academy (NH).

Abu has not planned any visits yet, but he said with the April live-period now finished, he’s going to start working on developing a list and planning his official visits.

As far as Abu being a package deal with his friend and teammate, Jared Terrell, Abu said he would like to play with him in college, but it’s not a requirement. They aren’t a package deal.

“That’s my boy,” he said, “but we’re not going to force it. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, than we gotta go our separate ways.”

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.