Miami Pace forward Rakeem Buckles has one state championship ring after last year's successful year at the Florida school. The fast-rising big man wants another. And without sounding too greedy, he'd like to have three by the time he leaves for a high-major college.
Buckles, one of the fastest rising big men in the Southeast, is ready for the encore this season. The 6-foot-8 forward is ready for the challenges ahead of him and his teammates. Winning back-to-back state championships isn't an easy task no matter where you are at.
The class of 2009 prospect said Pace doesn't have a secret to success just a simple formula.
"We play hard and have a great coach. He's extremely intense. He gets us going," Buckle said.
Buckles said he knows his role will be increased this season and he is ready for expanding his game even further.
"It should be a big year for me. I think I'll be able to step up my scoring, rebounding and my leadership this year," Buckles said.
Part of his progression can be attributed to the time spent with Florida bound wing and teammate Ray Shipman.
"He motivates me a lot. He's a great player and a great person," Buckles said. "We work out a lot with each other and makes me get a lot better."
Like Shipman, Buckles saw his recruitment dramatically change in the summer between his sophomore and junior year.
"Recruiting has changed a lot. Last year I never had anything like this. Now I'm getting phone calls and letters," Buckles said. "It's crazy."
Louisville, Miami, Florida State and Cincinnati have both offered scholarships to the youngster. Buckles added he is also hearing from Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wake Forest and Pittsburgh. Buckles said he has been to Miami, Florida and Florida State unofficially.
With no real rush to decide, Buckles said he wants to win another title before making any sort of college decision.