Trying to find a skilled big man is never easy. Try doing it in the class of 2007. The big man pool isn't as deep as it has been so when a guy like Teeng Akol comes around, coaches will look long and hard. The 6-foot-10, 200-pound forward from Our Savior New American in Center Reach, N.Y. has the raw potential to becoming a high-major player.
Since breaking out at the National Prep Tip-Off last month, Akol is adapting to the American game as well as the crazy game of recruiting. The Sudan native had done an admirable job at both says Eric Jaklitsh, an assistant coach at Our Savior New American.
"It's been an adjustment period for him," Jaklitsh said. "He just needed a chance to get used to everything. He didn't know what to expect but he played well in his first big games."
And Akol is playing well against some of the best big men in the country. Last week against Hargrave Military, Akol went for 24 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
"You can see how skilled he is," Jaklitsh said. "He has the whole package. We let him do his stuff. He comes off the screen and roll and just pops the three. How nice is it to have a big kid that can do that and have the opportunity to show that?"
"He's starting to put it all together," Jaklitsh said. "His strength is his shooting but he can crash the boards but he's got this hook shoot that's deadly. For a guy that's almost 7-feet, it's almost a guarantee."
It's almost a guarantee that Akol will surface at a high-major school. Jaklitsh said DePaul, Pittsburgh, St. John's, Fairfield, Iowa State, Rutgers, Boston College and several other Big East schools are more than interested.
Still a work in progress, Akol has great athleticism, a huge wingspan, a good face up game and a consistent jumper from the wing. Jaklitsh said Akol even practices with the guards and wings.
"We're working on his handle and small forward skills," Jaklitsh said. "For a kid that big, I have to wonder if there are any more skilled big men out there than him in the top 25. Who is more skilled than him? I saw the top kids this summer and it's hard to answer that. I know he's the top big kid in the (New York) metro area."
Akol and Our Savior New American will be in action this weekend at the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee, Fla.