Kenny Kadji watched the Final Four closely for a number of reasons this year. For starters, it was the first time he watched college basketball's biggest games. The French native wanted to watch a pair of his favorite players – Joakim Noah and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – play.
Now the 6-foot-10, 205-pound power forward is playing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., is being recruited by the same schools that signed his favorite players.
Kadji, a class of 2008 prospect, has only been in the United States for eight months and his game has steadily improved. He has shined on the AAU circuit in April, playing for the Florida Rams.
"I'm learning real fast," Kadji said. "Every single day I learn something new."
Matt Ramker, his coach with the Rams, agrees.
"I think the kid's upside is just ridiculous," Ramker said. "When he got here, he spoke no English and now it's like he's been here for eight years, not eight months. It's funny, after every AAU game we play we have a meeting as coaches and Kenny is always the guy we all end up talking about. He is always bringing something different."
One of the reasons why he is bringing something different to the table each game is his progression at IMG. The famed training facility is bustling these days with potential NBA draft picks working out with the players and trainers. Kadji is making sure he soaks in the talent on a daily basis.
"I saw Kevin Pittsnogle here the other day and he taught me some tricks in the post. Its nice having guys like him here because they are teaching me how I have to play," Kadji said. "I know I need to be bigger, stronger and faster in the post. It's like being in the NBA here because every day there is someone in the NBA playing here."
Kadji is a big forward that runs the floor in a way that Noah did this year for the Gators. Still very raw, the upside is there with Kadji.
Ramker said a handful of high-majors have inquired about the Frenchman this year and since Kadji played at the Kingwood Classic and the Double Pump event in Las Vegas last week. Florida, Kansas State, Memphis, Florida State, UCLA, USC, Miami, Gonzaga and UConn are all interested, Ramker says.
Still adjusting to who's who of college basketball, Kadji said he is picking up on the top programs in the country.
"We don't have a television program for college basketball, just NBA," he said. "But when I got here, I watched a lot of college. I saw Duke, UConn, Memphis and Florida. My coaches are helping me learn the different schools."
Time is on Kadji's side. He's hoping that, in time, he'll be playing in April just like Noah and Mbah a Moute did.