The Fighting Illini basketball program is seeking a special point guard to run its offense and…
Three new hoops targets emerge
Cameroon big man Joel Embiid, Mishawaka, Ind., point guard Demetrius Jackson and Jamaican post player Kentan Facey have all had their first initial contact with the U of L staff in recent days. Embiid plays for Florida Elite 17s and said the staff had been in touch after Rick Pitino and Kareem Richardson watched him several times this week at the adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. Jackson and Facey also played in Indy. Facey said the Cardinals have offered him a scholarship, while Jackson said Pitino told him via text that he "didn't know he was going to be watching Peyton Siva's replacement," when the coach came to his MBA Select game on Thursday night. "Recruiting changes by the day," Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels said. "New targets emerge and decisions are made on who to pursue. The evaluation periods are vital for coaches looking to find new prospective recruits." Pitino and his staff are certainly out searching. Embiid is the newest target and maybe the most intriguing. The 7-foot, 225-pound native of Cameroon has only been in the U.S. for seven months and lives just outside of Orlando, Fla. Embiid played volleyball for five years but has been playing basketball for less than a year. On the Florida Elite team with Florida commitment Kasey Hill and top-10 unsigned Chris Walker – also a Louisville target – Embiid had at least five blocks in his first five games at the adidas Invitational. In two games on Saturday, Embiid had 22 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocked shots for his team. "He's Gorgui Dieng II," one Division I college coach said, referring to the current Louisville center, after Embiid blocked a shot on consecutive possessions and then ran down the floor and finished off the transition with a dunk. Embiid said he had been on an unofficial visit to Florida and also mentioned UCLA, Mississippi, DePaul, Mississippi State, Virginia Commonwealth and Central Florida. He said Louisville had been in contact with his AAU coach this week. Pitino has ties to the AAU team, which is formerly known as the Florida Rams and is where ex-U of L player Rakeem Buckles played during his time on the circuit. "I just started playing last year and I like it here," Embiid said. "I don't know a lot about colleges but I will try to learn." Embiid said the only athletics in his family was his father, who "played a lot of handball." He spent time last season at Montverde, Fla., Academy but said he "wasn't sure where" he was going for his senior season. The 6-foot-8, 210-pound Facey claims an offer from Louisville after talking with the staff via text earlier in the week. He also has offers from Connecticut, Virginia Tech, Saint Louis, Duquesne and Florida State. "They said they really liked me and wanted to talk some more," Facey said of the U of L staff. "I actually know a lot about Louisville. One of my close friends (and mentors) is Samardo Samuels, so he's told me about them." Facey is a long, lanky athletic prospect, who runs the floor and proved at the adidas event that he likes to dunk the basketball. "I'm still learning (offense)," said Facey, who has been in the U.S. for a year and a half and lives with a host family in Glen Head, N.Y. He attends Long Island Lutheran and helped the school to the Class A Federation state title. Facey said he will sit down with his family after the evaluation period and "look at the schools that really want me," and then likely narrow his list. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Jackson is considered one of the top prospects in the state of Indiana and has offers from Illinois, Florida State, Michigan State, Xavier, Butler and Notre Dame but noted new interest from Kansas and Louisville. "They have both been talking to me, but have not offered yet," Jackson said. "It's not too late for them to get involved. I like both of those schools a lot but am just learning about them and trying to build a relationship." Richardson evaluated Jackson several times and Pitino saw him score 20 points and dish out six assists in a game on Thursday. Jackson said it wasn't long after the game he received a text from Pitino. "I wasn't too impressed with my game (that night) but he said he liked me a lot," Jackson said. "I just try to come out and play hard." Jackson, ranked No. 43 by Scout.com in the Class of 2013, said he would likely make a decision before his senior year at Mishawaka, Ind., Marian High School. Stay tuned to Cardinal Authority for any further updates or additions. "What's fun about the evaluation period is watching new prospects emerge," Daniels said. "Pitino spent some time in Indianapolis and picked out a few new guys that are quickly becoming Louisville targets."
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