Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
John Riek is headed back to IMG Academy for another year.
Riek, a 7-foot-2 native of the Sudan, had entered his name into the NBA Draft, but pulled it out after his advisors learned he would not be taken in the first round, if at all.
“He’s going to stay at IMG (in Bradenton, Fla.) for a year,” said Fatah Muraisi, a U.S. Army captain born in Yemen who advises Riek. “That way he’ll have a more favorable position (next year) and better health.”
IMG coach Dan Barto called Riek “a project” who could potentially make an impact in the league.
“He’s not ready to step in and immediately make an impact on a team,” Barto said in a phone interview. “However, in my seven years of pre-draft training, I haven’t seen many better projects. We had Ricky Sanchez down here, who was drafted directly out of high school, as well as we’ve had numerous kids who we’ve prepared for the draft, including Monta Ellis, Louis Williams and Jackie Butler, all guys that were drafted and turned into pretty good players. And John is a much better prospect than any of those guys were.”
Barto said Riek could be a “poor man’s Patrick Ewing.”
“If he gets in with the proper strength and conditioning program, he’s going to have a chance to be one of the better shot-blockers and really impact the game from a standpoint of maybe getting to the level of a poor man’s Patrick Ewing,” Barto said.
Riek missed games at Winchendon (Mass.) early in the season after he injured his left knee doing leg squats on a machine that was too small for him. He had the knee drained and returned to the team but then twisted his right knee in mid-January while playing at St. Thomas More.
“He got injured at the wrong time and in compensating for that, he injured something else,” Muraisi said.
Muraisi said the plan was for Riek to “learn and relax” at IMG, while taking SAT prep classes and likely taking the SAT “in the fall semester.”
Many schools had shied away from Riek because of his limited English, althogh Winchendon coach Mike Byrnes said Riek has come a long way.
“He articulated 75-80 percent of the stuff that he wanted to in English,” Byrnes said. “I think he really came a long way articulating himself in the English language. Obviously, in that short a bit of time, it’s going to be difficult to pass an SAT test.”
“It’s open recruitment for him,” Muraisi said. “I’m not calling any schools. Everybody’s waiting to see what happens to him. Nobody’s ahead of anybody right now (school-wise).”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.