NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — With a slew of high-major coaches watching, Abdul Malik Abu flashed his vast array of skills here on Friday morning at the Peach Jam.
The 6-foot-8 forward from Boston Kimball Union made a nice hook shot in the lane, drained a 3-pointer and threw down a number of authoritative dunks.
In the end, his 19 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 block weren’t enough to overcome a 33-point, 14-rebound showing by Stanley Johnson and the Expressions Elite lost to the Oakland Soldiers, 67-64, in a scintillating game.
Abu did all of that despite fasting for Ramadan. He hasn’t had anything to eat or drink from sunup to sundown since July 8.
“[Johnson] is a fantastic player, he’s a great player, he works hard and I just wanted to go out there and just give it my all and just play every possession like it was my last and try and get a win, but we couldn’t pull it off today,” Abu said.
Abu said he hasn’t cut his list yet but St. John’s, UConn, Providence, Florida, N.C. State, Kansas State and Louisville are just some of the schools in hot pursuit.
Johnnies head coach Steve Lavin sat courtside flanked by assistants Rico Hines and Tony Chiles to make a statement. Lavin had arrived from Indianapolis where he was watching big men Carlton Bragg and Goodluck Okonoboh, among others.
“I like St. John’s,” Abu said. “They were there early in my recruitment before I was recognized on a national stage or anything like that, so a lot of respect is due to them.”
Providence coach Ed Cooley and his staff have also been involved with Abu and teammate Jared Terrell and haven’t missed a game in two years.
“Same thing with Providence,” Abu said. “I have a good relationship with Coach Cooley.”
N.C. State has also been involved for a while.
“A lot of interest,” Abu said. “[Assistant] coach [Orlando] Early was here [Thursday] and they’re frequently in contact with me, always trying to see how I’m doing and checking in with me. It’s a high amount of interest.”
Abu said he was impressed with what N.C. State did with their forwards, such as Knicks rookie C.J. Leslie.
“He was such a versatile player and he could do many things, that’s something I like in the program,” Abu said.
UConn coach Kevin Ollie has also made Abu a priority.
“I like Connecticut, it’s in my back yard,” he said. “It’s the team I grew up watching.”
Florida is also involved.
“I talk to Billy Donovan,” he said. “What they did with their power forwards is spectacular. A lot of them are in the NBA and they stick in the NBA.”
Louisville has come in late but is also recruiting him.
“They’re coming in late and they’re just trying to really start and build a relationship,” he said. “I guess they’re going to be watching me during the live period. They’re the national champions right now so it’s an honor to be recruited by them.”
Abu plans to cut his list — possibly to 10 — later this summer before eventually getting down to his five official visits.
“It fluctuates all the time,” he said. “I’m not sure right now. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next couple weeks, who’s going to come in and and who’s going to come out. That’s life. So you just gotta see how it goes, and just play basketball.”
He added: “I’m taking all five visits and I’m going to cut down my list to I don’t know what number, but it’s going to happen soon. But I don’t know when.”