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Author Topic: Jack of all trades: Recruit emerges from soccer background to hoops stardom  (Read 4018 times)

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Offline Tallman

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Jack of all trades: Recruit emerges from soccer background to hoops stardom
By Javier Morales (Tucson Citizen)


His name is that of a Hollywood script writer creation: Kadeem Jack, known as K-Jack to his teammates and friends, and it’s fitting considering the storyline.

A kid from Trinidad and Tobago, where cricket and soccer dominate the sporting landscape, walked through Cambria Heights Park in Queens one spring afternoon four years ago and caught the eye of a passerby. The man, Damien Lesley, did not see a soccer player, but a lanky kid who could grow into a formidable basketball player. Jack’s long arms, height and build made Lesley believe the kid already played basketball.

Truth is, Jack hardly touched a basketball at that point in his life, as a 13-year-old. His meeting with Lesley altered his life, and future aspirations.

“I would not be where I’m at today if it weren’t for (Lesley),” Jack told me Monday night. “I credit him for bringing basketball into my life.”

The Roman Catholic presence of the Cambria Heights area spurred Lesley to ask Jack if he desired to play basketball at a Catholic high school. Lesley piqued Jack’s interest and the youngster agreed to give basketball a try at Rice High School, a Catholic school in Harlem. When Jack started the ninth grade, Lesley introduced him to Maurice Hicks, Rice’s head basketball coach.

It took a couple of years, into his junior season, for Jack to realize his potential.

“I knew nothing about how to play when I started, so it took me a little while to grasp things,” said Jack, now a starting center as a senior on Rice’s heralded program. “Local schools like Rutgers and Seton Hall started to show interest last year and things kind of took off.”

Took off is also an apt description for Jack’s game. The 6-foot-8-inch, 200-pound, post player, has developed a reputation as an athletic leaper around the basket, especially on defense and with his rebound positioning. This season, he has worked diligently on his offensive skills, often sticking around the gym late to practice his ball handling and mid-range shot. He already has shown a decent postup move with his back to the basket.

In a recent game, won by Rice 83-48 over rival St. Raymond’s in the Bronx, Jack tallied 19 points and eight blocked shots.

“He’s a great athlete and his timing on blocked shots is phenomenal,” St. Raymond’s coach Oliver Antigua told the New York Post after the game. “There were some questions on what level he can play on, but forget about that. He can just do things that are special.”

In Jack’s mind, not all aspects of his game are special. He wants more versatility.

“My offense is an area of my game that I want to improve the most,” Jack said. “I’ve been working very hard on my ball-handling skills and ability to create offense off the dribble out in the open floor. Right now, I can score around the basket. I feel confident in my ability with my footwork around the basket.

“I want to be more of an offensive threat anywhere on the court.”

Four years ago, footwork to Jack meant maneuvering on the soccer field like Dwight Yorke, the Michael Jordan of Trinidad and Tobago soccer. “Basketball never entered my mind (while growing up),” he said. It did not take long for Jack, who exudes confidence just from his voice and his mannerisms, to become intrepid about competing against basketball players his age who at least double his years of experience on the court.

He is so confident in his ability that he wants perhaps the most storied college basketball program in America to give him a look. He no longer dreams about playing for Trinidad and Tobago’s national soccer team, which qualified for its first World Cup appearance in 2006. He desires to basketball play for the North Carolina Tarheels.

Roy Williams, are you reading?

“North Carolina, to me, is an ideal program,” Jack said. “It’s a program that gets a lot of respect nationally. Where I play, at Rice, it is the same way. People across the nation know about Rice High School because of some of the players who have played here (such as Felipe Lopez and Edgar Sosa).”

When asked if he believes North Carolina will begin recruiting him, Jack said with hint of adulation: “I hope so.”

Jack, however, was quick to point out some programs that have shown interest in him, such as Arizona, “are good programs that have coaches I respect.” According to Rivals.com, programs that have offered a scholarship to Jack include Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia and Seton Hall. He is also being recruited by many Big East schools, including Villanova and Pitt. Florida, Texas and California are also in the picture.

“Everybody is equal right now in my mind,” Jack said. “I can’t really say I favor one program over another.”

Arizona coach Sean Miller, who keeps in weekly contact with Jack, is the first to schedule the power forward prospect for a visit (Jan. 26).

The Wildcats entered the recruitment for Jack because of the prior affiliation UA assistant coach Book Richardson had with the New York Gauchos’ AAU program. Hicks is the director of the Bronx-based Gauchos program as well as Jack’s head coach at Rice. Richardson was the Gauchos’ previous director until 2007, when Miller hired him to be part of his Xavier staff.

Arizona’s New York connection with Richardson and freshmen Kevin Parrom and Lamont “MoMo” Jones will not have a bearing on Jack’s decision.

“You really can’t make a decision like this based on where other people are from,” Jack said. “I don’t see how you can do that. The decision should be based on what’s best for my development as a basketball player and student.”

Jack is an accomplished student, but he says he is uncertain what field of study he wants to pursue in college. His desire to further develop as a basketball player and student — “In the end, what I do off the court will be the most important thing in my life,” he said — has him contemplating a year of prep school instead of entering college for the 2010-11 year.

“I am confident of my ability, but I feel like another year (in prep school) will better prepare me for college, academically and athletically,” Jack said. “Unless I feel like I can develop the way I want at a college next year, I think attending prep school and coming out for (the Class of) 2011 will be the smartest thing for me to do.”

The bottom line is Jack has options, which were unforeseen that fateful spring day in Queens four years ago when Lesley spotted the unsuspecting youth from the crowd. The plot only thickens from now until when Jack announces that 2010 or 2011 will be the start of his collegiate experience.

The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline Dutty

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 :applause:
Good for the yout...hope he continues upward

although at 6'8" 200 he go  need a lil blue food to keep tings goin
Little known fact: The online transportation medium called Uber was pioneered in Trinidad & Tobago in the 1960's. It was originally called pullin bull.

Offline ProudTrinbagonian

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Keep it up K-Jack,
your reppin yourself and the red, black and white well
whey boy!

Offline Tallman

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Recruit developing quicker than thought
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2010, 05:33:32 AM »
Recruit developing quicker than thought
Arizona Daily Star


When Arizona basketball coaches first started pursuing Kadeem Jack last fall, the New York high school senior wasn't sure he would be ready for major college basketball in 2010.

An athletic 6-foot-8-inch forward who didn't even play the game until eighth grade while spending the bulk of his childhood in Trinidad, Jack figured he might need a year of prep school before entering college with the class of 2011.

Those plans have likely changed.

Jack, who will take his first official recruiting visit this week to Arizona, said Monday he's now 90 percent sure he will accept a scholarship to play next season.

To Scout.com analyst Dave Telep, he might as well.

"He doesn't need to do that anymore," Telep said. "Kadeem went from being a prospect to being a player in the past six weeks. He's laced with athletic potential, and the light just went on - and it's never going off. He's always had the ability, but now he's developing it."

Telep said Jack excelled at December's Chick-fil-A Classic in South Carolina, where he made the all-tournament team. He also recently had 24 points and 20 rebounds for Rice High School in Harlem when playing against Bishop Loughlin and Villanova signee JayVaughn Pinkston.

Jack is currently not rated in the Top 100 by Rivals, Scout or ESPNU, but Telep said Jack is already a defensive Top 100 player in the class of 2010 with an improving array of offense.

It's a long way - literally and figuratively - from where Jack was in Trinidad, where he lived from age 2 to 12, and his sport of choice was the local favorite, soccer. He didn't last long as a soccer player in New York - not with what is now a 6-8, 190-pound body.

"One day I came back from playing soccer in the park and this guy saw I was long and athletic and asked me if I wanted to play basketball for a Catholic school," Jack said. "I was like, 'Sure. Whatever.'"

Before long, Jack was playing at Rice and for the New York Gauchos traveling team. Several years later, he became an elite college prospect.

For Arizona, though, Jack's emerging status as one of the top remaining players in 2010, has a downside: Suddenly, there's more competition than ever.

Jack said he has "narrowed down" a list that still includes Arkansas, Miami, Florida, Arizona, UCLA, California, Providence, St. Johns, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Connecticut.

But the Wildcats, at least, will get a chance to make the first impression. It will be an important one: Jack said he doesn't know much about UA other than his discussions with assistant coach Book Richardson, whom he did not play for as some of the other Wildcats' New York targets have.

"I'm just curious to see the stuff that Book has been talking about, the people, the facilities and the team," Jack said. "I want to see how Sean Miller is."

Jack said he's making the rare in-season, midweek visit because Rice is testing this week, and he has two free days as a result. But he will leave early Friday, after watching the UA-Stanford game on Thursday, in order to get home and play in a tournament Friday night.

"It just came up where they had some time, and I had some free time in my schedule," Jack said.

Jack said he would take the rest of his visits after Rice's season ends, which will also give him some extra time to digest all the new recruiting attention he has been receiving.

"It's been great," Jack said of his season and recruitment. "This season I've tried to stay focused and go hard."
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline Tallman

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Jack’s mentor instrumental in prospect’s development
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2010, 05:42:04 AM »
Jack’s mentor instrumental in prospect’s development
By Javier Morales (Tucson Citizen)


Damian Leslie was in search of somebody else that fateful afternoon four years ago, but in reality, he found who he was looking for and more.

Leslie, in the middle of putting together a documentary about New York City area basketball players, was at Cambria Heights Park in Queens, N.Y., in search of a player who thankfully did not show up as far as Kadeem Jack is concerned. While waiting for the player, Leslie spotted Jack coming off the court.

“The thing that caught my eye the most,” Leslie told me Tuesday afternoon, “was his stature and baby face. He was pretty tall for a kid his age (14 at the time). I asked him what team he played for and where he was going to school. He told me he was there just basically having fun. I was amazed.”

Jack was new to the area, having moved from Trinidad and Tobago to Queens with his mother, Louisa Hall, who aspired for a medical career in New York. As a kid, Jack was only exposed to soccer, the most popular sport in his country. Leslie knew that Jack’s athleticism, lean build and long arms translated into potential success as a basketball player.

Leslie directed players he discovered previously to his good friend Maurice Hicks, who at the time was an assistant director of the New York Gauchos AAU team as well as head coach at Rice High School in Manhattan. Leslie, now Jack’s mentor, suggested to youngster that he meet Hicks to refine his skills. Jack and his mother were receptive to that idea from the start.

Hicks later replaced Book Richardson as director of the New York Gauchos’ AAU program when Richardson was hired by Sean Miller at Xavier in 2007. Richardson came to Arizona with Miller in April. Leading up to the school year, Richardson learned more from Hicks and Leslie about Jack’s potential.

“I met Coach Richardson when he came down here earlier this year to see Kadeem,” Leslie said. “He’s a wonderful person. He gave us all the ins and outs about playing at the next level. Kadeem came away very impressed by Book.”

Jack, a 6-8, 200-pound post player, was a reserve for most of his freshman and sophomore seasons at Rice. He blossomed toward the end of last season. His progression as a player is ongoing with impressive results. His 24 points and 20 rebounds against Bishop Loughlin’s Jayvaughn Pinkston — rated by some as New York City’s best player this season — earlier this month indicates he’s on track to be one of the best Class of 2010 prospects. He entered the season without recognition from the national recruiting services.

Jack further made a name for himself last week against high-profile recrut Dwayne Polee of Los Angeles Westchester, scoring 31 points in Rice’s 62-44 win.

Just how far has Jack progressed from the time Leslie noticed him to now?

“Whew,” Leslie said with a laugh. “That’s an interesting question right there. He is rapid in his development because he’s a fast learner. He’d be the first to tell you he has a long way to go. But he has come so far.”

Jack’s official visit to Arizona this week, Wednesday through Friday, is the only one he will schedule until after his season with Rice is finished, according to Leslie. Other schools interested include UCLA, West Virginia, Miami, Villanova, Pitt, Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Georgia and Seton Hall. Leslie is uncertain whether Jack will take all of his allotted five visits. Given Jack’s rapid development, it appears more likely that he will be playing in Division I next season rather than trying to develop more in a prep school.

“The thing about Kadeem is he has great confidence in his ability,” Leslie said. “I showed him tapes of Elton Brand and Lamar Odom (both New York City products) when they were in high school to give him an idea of how far those guys have developed. Kadeem’s a quick learner. He realized right away that he can be as good as those guys as long as he worked hard.

“He knows that Brand and Odom are no different than him in terms of their size and determination. It was up to Kadeem to develop their kind of skills through working hard at it.”

Jack is so proud about how far he’s come that he has not placed limits on his potential.

“It’s interesting, I asked Kadeem recently about what his goals are in basketball now,” Leslie said. “He did not say he wants to be one of the best. He told me he wants to be in the Hall of Fame. Can you believe that? Who am I to say yay or nay to that. He truly believes that.

“The biggest thing with Kadeem is staying humble, and I don’t see him changing as far as that is concerned. He’s very loyal to his coach and his teammates. He’ll continue to work hard and learn fast to get to where he wants to go.”

Leslie helps feed Jack’s basketball IQ by giving him books about some of the game’s greats, including Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Connie Hawkins. His message: These Hall of Famers started playing the game some time in their career. At one point players like this were considered underdeveloped. Their determination was the difference.

Jack’s daily trek from his home in Queens to Manhattan to attend Rice shows his type of determination and loyalty to Hicks and that program. Jack must awake at 5 a.m. to get to Rice by 8 for his first class. His mother must drive him a half-hour to a catch an hour-long train ride into Manhattan. That’s about three hours of round-trip transportation every day to get to school and home.

Many kids his age would rather drive a car a short distance to school. They fret about walking a couple of blocks or taking a bus. His maturity is in direct relation to Leslie introducing him to organized basketball and all they trials and tribulations involved with that, especially in the highly competitive environment of New York City.

“I would not be where I’m at today if it weren’t for (Leslie),” Jack said to me recently. “He means a great deal to me as somebody who knows the game and knows what it takes to be good at it.”

That can be read as an understatement. Fortunately for Jack, Leslie showed up to the Cambria Heights Park that fateful day because of his love for youth basketball. To get an idea of Leslie’s work with emerging basketball talent in New York City, visit his My Space page.

Leslie deflects attention away from himself when his discovery of Jack is mentioned. Basketball is not his full-time job — he is a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant) taking classes to become an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) in the nursing field — but his devotion to the sport helped pave the way for Jack to flourish.

“It’s interesting, but I’d like to think Kadeem got to where he is today through his hard work,” Leslie said. “Knowing Kadeem he would be successful in anything given the way he approaches life in general.”
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline royal

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Jack leads Rice to SNY Invitational title
Senior nets 19 points, 10 boards to earn MetroPCS MVP award

By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv

NEW YORK - After a whirlwind trip to Arizona earlier this week, Kadeem Jack finally got enough rest Friday night.

He slept until 1 on Saturday afternoon and then came to play in the SNY Invitational championship game.

The 6-foot-9 Jack capped a comeback from 19 points down in the third quarter by draining two clutch foul shots in the final seconds of overtime and then blocking a shot on the defensive end to lead Rice to a thrilling 63-58 victory over Cardozo at Long Island University-Brooklyn.

Rice (14-3) outscored Cardozo 27-11 over the fourth quarter and overtime, including a 9-4 spurt in the four-minute extra period.

"It's great," said Jack after he was presented with the MetroPCS MVP award for putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.

"I went home [Friday night]. I slept all day and I came back in here today and I tried to play my best."

Cardozo junior forward Dwayne Brunson received the McDonald's Sportsmanship Award after putting up 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in the loss. Brunson also dropped 22 points and 10 rebounds in Friday's rout of Long Island Lutheran.

"Of course we lost," Brunson said. "We're going to bounce back and get ready for next week."

After Jack returned late Friday afternoon from an official visit to Arizona, he vowed to never again take a trip before an important game. He had 12 points and 12 rebounds in Friday night's win over Boys & Girls but admitted to being "exhausted" afterward.

With assistant coaches from Seton Hall and St. John's looking on Saturday, Jack went to the foul line with his team clinging to a 59-58 lead and 21.4 seconds left in the overtime.

Asked what he was thinking when he went to the stripe, he said: "I just got to make these because I missed two earlier."

After draining both to extend Rice's lead to 61-58, 6-8 Cardozo senior Ryan Rhoomes went up for a layup, but Jack leaped and rejected the shot.

"That's just something I always do. I like playing defense, so I always pick up that defensive assignment," Jack said.

Scotty Arias hit two more foul shots for two of his 12 points with 5.1 seconds left to cap the victory for Rice.

Cardozo (12-7) led 45-26 late in the third period, but the Raiders outscored the Judges 28-19 the rest of the regulation. Rice outscored Cardozo 18-7 in the fourth quarter, when Jack had nine points and Arias had seven. Arias, a senior guard, was fouled shooting a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and then made 2 of 3 to tie the game at 54.

Cardozo guard Chris Gayot unfurled a three-quarter court heave that glanced off the rim in the final seconds of regulation, sending the game to the extra period.

In the extra time, Rice junior Jermaine Sanders hit a huge 3-pointer and then a turnaround jumper to put Rice up 59-54.

"I felt that I had to step up in overtime because I was playing bad the whole game. And the fadeaway jump shot, it felt good coming off," said Sanders, who finished with 12 points.

"Jermaine is a big-game player. He's the guy that if we have a last-second shot, that's who we want shooting it. He's been doing it since his sophomore year. He hit some big shots for us last year down the stretch of the [New York Federation AA] state championship. And this is something that he'll continue to do. He's that type of player," Rice coach Maurice Hicks said.

Malcolm Brooks finished with 15 points for Cardozo and Rhoomes added 14 points and 11 boards.

A top 10 team nationally and the No. 1 team in the city, Rice came in as the heavy favorite to win the event, but had to fight off serious threats from both Boys and Cardozo before becoming the third team to capture the SNY Invitational.

Lance Stephenson and Lincoln won the inaugural event in 2008, and Sherrod Wright and Mount Vernon took home the hardware a year ago.

Now Jack is the latest to add his name to the MVP list.

One Division 1 assistant coach said he wouldn't be surprised to see the long and lanky Jack playing in the NBA one day.

For now, though, he's focused on defending Rice's state title and then picking a college out of his many suitors.

"If I make a decision it's going to be later on in this year," he said. "I'm trying to play this season out, win this ring and then make my decision." END
Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com and follow him on Twitter at

Offline Flex

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Jack takes unlikely trip to stardom.
By Nina Mandell, Special to ESPN.com


Kadeem Jack's journey from the island of Trinidad and Tobago to must-have recruit sometimes seems like a fairy tale.

Jack, the nation's No. 43 power forward, has a long list of schools after him including UCLA, Arizona and UConn, but he has not always been interested in basketball.

He was sent to live in Trinidad and Tobago with family by his mother, Louisa Hall, at the age of 2, and like most Trinidadian children, grew up on a steady diet of cricket and soccer -- where he played goalie and had dreams of playing for the national soccer team.

Kadeem Jack, a 6-foot-9 forward, is drawing interest from Arizona, UCLA and UConn."I wanted to play [in the World Cup] with the Trinidadian team, to play against [Brazil]," Jack remembered.

When his mother completed nursing school, Jack returned to the U.S. -- and his dreams changed. While leaving a local park, he caught the eye of basketball entrepreneur, Damian Leslie, who took one look at this 6-foot-6 baby-faced kid and asked if he wanted to go to Catholic school -- and play ball.

The decision was easy for Hall and Jack, who understood his size could make him a special talent.

"He always said, 'with my height, what else can I do?'" Hall said with a laugh.

Leslie set him up with Maurice Hicks, the Rice (New York) coach who had been the recipient of another recommended player of Leslie's only three weeks prior.

By his sophomore year, Jack was enrolled at Rice and began playing for the Gauchos, a legendary AAU squad in New York. Under the tutelage his coaches and Leslie, he became an intense student of the game.

However, it was a slow journey. For the first two years of his Rice career, Jack spent much of his time on the bench. He sat behind players that included UConn's Kemba Walker and Miami's Durand Scott, something that frustrated him and gnawed at his confidence, Leslie said.

The waiting, however, did teach him maturity and work ethic and Jack continued to climb the Rice roster. That work ethic is on display at the empty park outside of his home, he is often found shooting 100 free throws, 200 jump shots and working on layup drills. Leslie said Jack also works on his ball-handling by dribbling the 25 minutes between their houses.

"They say if you work hard, in a game it shows," Jack said. "I work very hard."

The extra work began to show last January at the Big Apple Tournament. Jack grabbed 11 points, eight rebounds and helped his team to a 71-45 win over Long Island Lutheran.

But the numbers didn't tell the whole story. In the dominating win, Jack says it was the first time he played consistently for four quarters -- earning the attention of not only the Rice coaching staff, but his mother as well.

"She talked about it all night," he said proudly. "She said, 'that's my son, that's my son.'"

That performance helped kick off Jack's recruitment, a process Jack said is overwhelming and gratifying at the same time.

"When it first started, I used to pick up the phone for a lot of coaches and they would talk for half an hour," Jack said. "It was a point where my minutes ran out. I had to wait 18 days for the next cycle."

Jack, now a 6-foot-8 senior, is starting for the Raiders. He joins Kansas State-bound Shane Southwell on a team that could be headed for a state title and Hicks credits much of their success to Jack's physical stature and growing maturity.

"I think right now he's beginning to become a better student of the game and understanding what he can do," Hicks said.

Hicks is not the only one taking notice. After a comeback win against All Hallows, coaches from UCLA and Manhattanville College waited outside of the tiny locker room to say a quick hello. Those coaches join Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan on the list of coaches who have made the trip to see him as well as Jim Calhoun who, despite being on medical leave, called to let him know the Huskies' coaching situation would be stable.

Hicks often checks in and sometimes even referees his star pupil's recruiting process. Georgetown's John Thompson III has said he would call Jack and Kentucky has joined his list of suitors, but Hicks doesn't want him getting too excited before a big weekend for the team.

"I haven't told him about [Kentucky] yet," Hicks said slyly.

When it comes to deciding where he'll play his college ball, Jack remains characteristically understated. His first official visit was to Arizona and he says he wants to visit UCLA, Arkansas and either Miami or Florida.

He might not have decided yet, but for Jack, it will just be another chapter in what's already been an unlikely tale.

"I never knew it would have gotten this big," said Jack. "But it's been a storybook ending."

Nina Mandell is a freelance writer in New York. She can be reached at ninamandell@gmail.com.
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Offline Mose

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Hmmm. Have to remember to keep an eye out fuh this yuteman!! Hope he does well.
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Jack now courted aggressively by Kansas and West Virginia
by Javier Morales (tucsoncitizen.com)


Kadeem Jack, now a Class of 2011 recruit out of South Kent (Conn.) Prep, now has Kansas, West Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina challenging Arizona and others for his services after next season (Kadeem Jack photo)

The secret is out and the recruiting aura of Trinidad and Tobago native Kadeem Jack is developing from one top program to another.

The Class of 2011 recruit who graduated and played at Manhattan (N.Y) Rice High School, is now heavily involved with Kansas and West Virginia. Jack, a 6-8, 215-pound forward who will attend South Kent (Conn.) Prep next year, is contemplating a visit to Kansas or West Virginia to take part in their elite camps this month.

“Kansas is definitely one of the schools that I’m interested in,” Jack is quoted as saying by JayhawkSlant.com, a Kansas Rivals.com site. “Kansas is definitely a program I’m going to seriously consider – most definitely. I’ve talked to Coach (Bill) Self … I’ve been able to talk to a couple of members of the coaching staff from Kansas.

“Kansas got involved with my recruitment when they found out I was going to attend South Kent next year. The coaching staff at Kansas is interested in me and I’m interested in Kansas. I like the style of play and I like the coaching staff. Kansas is definitely an option I’m going to consider.”

So in a matter of two to three months since the end of Rice’s season, Jack has gone from being recruited by Arizona, UCLA, UConn, Miami and Arkansas to being courted also by Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and West Virginia. Nobody ever said recruiting is easy. Arizona not securing Jack when it had the chance is similar to not snatching that last item on a store’s shelf and then seeing others clamor for it.

Jack, who has only played four seasons of organized basketball and has more of a soccer background, visited only Arizona officially during the season. At one point, his mentor Damian Leslie, mentioned that Arizona was Jack’s leader because the budding prospect had no other trips planned.

The story goes that Arizona mailed him a national letter of intent for him to sign during halftime of the Jordan Brand Classic regional all-star game April 17. Jack said he balked at that idea because he wanted to visit other schools before making a decision.

Jack later took trips to Miami and Arkansas before he opted to attend South Kent instead of a Division I institution in 2010-11. He reconsidered that notion when North Carolina and Kentucky started to show interest in early May, but he stuck to his decision to attend South Kent. Lately, Kansas and West Virginia have come calling.

Jack has maintained, however, that Arizona is in the picture.

“Arizona is definitely still in my recruiting process,” Jack communicated to me via text message recently.

Offline Tallman

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Rice Graduate Shooting to Become Rutgers Basketball Star
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2010, 05:20:27 PM »
Rice Graduate Shooting to Become Rutgers Basketball Star
By Farhod Family (The Uptowner)


At 6 foot 9, Kadeem Jack is a towering force on the basketball court. In practice, he glides down the court, throwing down dunks almost effortlessly. But less than six years ago, he was standing between goal posts on the soccer field. Jack grew up playing soccer and cricket in Trinidad and Tobago, before moving to Flushing, Queens, at 12.

“I played soccer until I came to New York, and then fell in love with basketball,” Jack says.

He started playing the summer after his freshman year. His future mentor, Damian Leslie,  discovered Jack walking by a playground basketball court near his home and asked if he was waiting to play the next game. “I said no, I play soccer, and he told me, ‘You’re too tall for soccer,” Jack says with a laugh. Leslie, now producing a documentary about New York City basketball, was at the park looking for a different player, but Jack caught his eye.

Leslie happens to be good friends with former Rice High School head coach Maurice Hicks. Leslie asked Jack if he wanted to play basketball at Rice, a private Catholic school in Harlem with a prestigious basketball program that has produced many Division I players. “I just thought about the Catholic school education and I brought the idea to my mother and she said ‘OK,’” Jack says.

Four years later, he’s one of the most highly recruited forwards coming out of New York. Last year, his senior year at Rice, some of the biggest programs in college basketball — including Arizona, UConn, Miami and Kentucky — showed interest in him. Now enrolled at South Kent School, a Connecticut prep school, Jack is taking this year to prepare his game for the college level. “His progress has been amazing; to make such strides in a such a short amount of time, especially given his size, is remarkable,” says South Kent basketball coach Kelvin Jefferson.

Jack began his first year at Rice as a sophomore and didn’t play much that season. As he watched from the bench, his teammate’s strong play motivated him to get better. “I just fell in love with the game because not playing that whole year, I just wanted to play, watching all of my teammates and how hard they went in the game,”Jack says.

Blessed with extraordinary athleticism, Jack had to learn that the game involves more than getting the ball in the basket. He remembers not knowing what to do when coaches  yelled instructions like “go to the box.”

“It was awkward at first,” he says. “It seemed like I was lost on the court. But as soon as I picked up the terms of the game, I got better and more attentive.” Jack recalls a game against Patterson Catholic in his junior year as a turning point: He scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. “That was my first game of the season where I felt like I accomplished something,” he says.

Rice’s head coach, Dwayne Mitchell, an assistant coach at the time, immediately saw Jack’s potential. “We recognized that he was really raw and really athletic,” Mitchell says. “His athleticism makes him someone who can change the momentum of the game. He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever seen.”

Since he started at Rice three years ago, Jack has worked hard to improve his skill level, to complement his athleticism. “He’s made big strides since his sophomore year,” Mitchell says. “His understanding of the game has come a long way.”

By his senior year, Jack was coming into his own. “I’m most fond of my senior year,” he says. “I blew up that year. I went hard the summer in between my junior and senior year, because I knew I had something big ahead of me.”

By attending Rice, Jack says that Harlem has become “a second home” and that it has influenced aspects of his game. “Harlem gave me my style of play; my flair and attitude on the court comes from there,” he says.

Jack’s decision to turn down full scholarship offers from some big college basketball programs and attend prep school caught a few people by surprise. “We thought he was ready for school, ready to continue his education and get his degree,” Mitchell says.

Adam Zagoria, a sports reporter who covers high school recruiting says, “It’s surprising for a kid to turn down scholarship offers from places like Miami or West Virginia.”

But Jack says he felt he needed more time to develop. “When all those schools came after me,” he says, “I was just fascinated by the big names, but realized that I needed to work on my skill level.”

In August, Jack announced his decision to attend Rutgers University next fall. While Rutgers is not mentioned with the heavyweight basketball programs, new head coach Mike Rice has worked hard to bring in a talented recruiting class next year, headlined by Jack.

“I chose Rutgers, so I could be a part of something new,” Jack says. “We’re going to do big things next year.”

The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline Controversial

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under

Offline Bakes

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under

He would have been buried on the bench there.  That said, Rutgers is a horrible choice... no pedigree, particularly with big men.  The good thing is that it's in the best Conference in the country and they're in rebuilding mode, so he'll get minutes right away.  I'm biased, but I always say if you're a big man there's not better place to hone your game than at Georgetown.

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under

He would have been buried on the bench there.  That said, Rutgers is a horrible choice... no pedigree, particularly with big men.  The good thing is that it's in the best Conference in the country and they're in rebuilding mode, so he'll get minutes right away.  I'm biased, but I always say if you're a big man there's not better place to hone your game than at Georgetown.

i also suspected that he would ride pine at kansas initially, i would have preferred a Georgetown, always loved their program and admired it. I also think ucla would have been an optimal choice as well.

i have no idea what swayed his decision, whether it was staying close to his mother or being the star on rutgers and drawing national attention to himself.

in the end, my prayers are with him and i want him to succeed in basketball as well as academically. i eagerly await the day he makes himself eligible for the nba draft

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i also suspected that he would ride pine at kansas initially, i would have preferred a Georgetown, always loved their program and admired it. I also think ucla would have been an optimal choice as well.

i have no idea what swayed his decision, whether it was staying close to his mother or being the star on rutgers and drawing national attention to himself.

in the end, my prayers are with him and i want him to succeed in basketball as well as academically. i eagerly await the day he makes himself eligible for the nba draft

Well, way too premature for him to even entertain such thoughts yet... he went from being UNC-bound to ending up at a rebuilding program at Rutgers, so I'm not convinced that the NBA is yet in his future.  But again, he'll get plenty minutes right away, and there's no brighter spotlight than the Big East... so the opportunity will be there for him to show and prove.

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under
Hope he comes to WVU...it will be nice to have a Trini on the squad.

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under
Hope he comes to WVU...it will be nice to have a Trini on the squad.

If WVU is yuh squad then allyuh could use just about anybody right now... practice players and all  :devil:

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jmho but i believe kansas would have been a better program for him to develop under
Hope he comes to WVU...it will be nice to have a Trini on the squad.

If WVU is yuh squad then allyuh could use just about anybody right now... practice players and all  :devil:

Ent! From final four to out of the top 25...we real inconsistent this year, since Butler graduated we have no one this season who can lead the team the way he did.

 

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