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

Leave a comment

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.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
Leave a comment

Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.