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.
By ALEX KLINEWhen Kelvin Amayo entered high school at NIA Prep in New Jersey, he was under the radar.
Throughout his career, he has played with some of the top tier talent in the area and always taken a backseat. Now, as one of the top unsigned seniors in the country, Amayo is a star.
It didn’t come easy, though. The 6-foot-4 guard/forward had to work at it.
“It took me hard work in the gym to be even brought up with the best in my class and nobody knows that this was my true drive to be great,” he said.
“Going to NIA Prep made me work hard because every day you are playing against somebody who is going to a big-name college or is an All-American.”
As first-year NIA Prep coach Rudy King has brought in a ton of talent to compliment Amayo, Cincinnati-bound Shaq Thomas, Ryan Rhoomes and company, the senior has striven due to his work ethic.
“Coach King is pushing me to another level,” says Amayo. “I didn’t know if I could play for NIA Prep at first. When we had a talk he asked me if I wanted to be good or great.”
Amayo didn’t respond to the question, but waited to make all of his moves on the court.
“After that I started working out at a different level than everybody else,” he said. “I started to get noticed by everyone for my performance on the court.”
Now, Amayo is only a few months away from college and is being recruited heavily by a number of different schools. He is now down to “Oregon State, Seton Hall and Providence” with interest from Minnesota, Indiana and other schools.
While Providence recently fired their entire coaching staff, including head coach Keno Davis, Amayo is not phased. With former Fairfield coach Ed Cooley getting the job, there is a new learning curve to the recruitment.
“They haven’t talked to me but they talked to my coaches and they are supposed to call me soon,” referred Amayo to the Friars new staff.
As for Oregon State, the fact that it is around three-thousand miles away will not impact the Garden State native, either. “I don’t think the location will affect me at all.”
As Beavers associate head coach Doug Stewart recruits the star player, he has very good Jersey connections. Former St. Anthony star Devon Collier is now a freshman at Oregon State and Stewart has also recruited Eli Carter, a New Jersey native and friend of both Collier and Amayo.
“We’ve talked a couple of times on twitter and stuff,” he says of his relationship with Collier. Kelvin hopes to take an official visit there soon.
When it all comes down to it, there wasn’t any strange, life-changing event that took place in Amayo’s life.
The NIA Prep wing just wanted to be noticed and worked hard. Now, his recruitment is getting hotter as the days go by. He won’t be an All-American, nor will he be ranked in the top 100 in the country.
That doesn’t matter.
What matters to Amayo is how he proved to everyone that hard work pays off.
**2012 small forward Jeremy Hollowell of Lawrence Central decided to stay in-state and announced his commitment to Indiana this week. He joins arguably the top junior class for Tom Crean which features Yogi Ferrell, Peter Jurkin, Ron Patterson and Hanner Perea. Hollowell was excited about his decision to stay home. “I saw something amazing about to happen and wanted to make sure I was a part of it,” he said. “I felt I would have regretted it if I went anywhere else.”
**The state of Iowa is all over 2012 forward Georges Niang of Tilton School in New Hampshire. The 6-foot-7 Niang was recently offered by Iowa and also has a scholarship from Iowa State. This week he visited both schools unofficially and enjoyed both visits. Providence is also making a big push for the local product.
**Another hot commodity in the Northeast is 2012 forward Evan Cummins of Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts. Recently, coaches from Harvard, Stanford and Boston came out to watch the talent junior. Academic schools have come calling for Cummins, who also has offers from Northwestern, Davidson, Notre Dame, William & Mary and others.
**North Carolina is showing early interest in a number of young players. The latest is 2013 guard RJ Curington of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. Although Curington doesn’t get much playing time for Steve Smith’s veteran club, he is the only sophomore on the Warriors roster and has a chance to start next year. Alabama, South Carolina and Cincinnati are expressing a fair amount of interest in him, as well.
**Three commitments also took place on Friday. 2011 Max Bielfeldt of Peoria Notre Dame in Illinois announced his decision between Big Ten schools. Bielfeldt picked Michigan over Illinois. Wake Forest picked up their third commitment in the class of 2012. Jeff Bzdelik and company picked up 6-11 center Andre Washington, who joins Codi Miller-McIntyre and Aaron Rountree for the Demon Deacons. Finally, Washington State added a commitment from 2011 forward DJ Shelton out of Citrus Junior College in California. The Cougars are still looking for one more big man, though.
**2011 big man Desmond Hubert, who is down to North Carolina and Maryland, attended the Tar Heels’ Sweet Sixteen game tonight against Marquette. The New Egypt star said the game “was crazy.” Hubert did not meet with the UNC staff after the game but remains undecided on his college decision at the moment.
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.