No other prospect created a stir even close to the one that Sudanese prospect John Riek caused at the NIKE Hoop Jamboree the past week. The 7-foot-2, 240-pound center from Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American High School played with a passion and aggressiveness rarely seen in a player his size. Only one school is on record with an offer, but look for the rest of the country to follow.
A 2009 prospect, Riek was a dominant force on both ends of the court in St. Louis. He chased down rebounds, came across the lane to block shots, kept the ball high above the defense when executing low post moves and attacked the rim when given the opportunity. Simply put, he played with a fundamental approach and competitive fire and all at the height of 7-foot-2.
Riek arrived at Our Savior New American in mid-January and immediately altered the course of their season.
"We hadn't won a game when John arrived," said assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch. "He instantaneously changed our team. We started winning games, and our players loved playing with him. He is nothing short of a program changer."
In fact Riek has the budding ability to be a program changer at the college level and then find himself in the upper half of the NBA lottery one day. He has that much potential.
Last season he averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks per game while shooting a staggering 80 percent from the field. Only expect his numbers to get better and better.
"John plays hard and works and works," said Jaklitsch. "I don't know of many people that are going to be able to stop him. He wants to learn in a bad way. I was amazed at his work ethic and his fundamentals when he got here. Playing for a coach in college who can develop big men will be important to him."
One school in particular appears to have the edge on the competition. DePaul already has two Sudanese players on its roster and has been recruiting Riek's teammate Teeng Akol, and the Blue Demons are the one program who has officially offered Riek.
Pittsburgh has also been in the hunt, and now you can throw Georgetown, Arizona, St. John's, Georgia Tech, Kentucky into a mix that will only grow bigger by the days.
"I'm to the point where I don't want to look at my phone," said Jaklitsch. "I work in a place where it doesn't work well, and when I get outside, I'll look at my phone and have 15 new voice messages."