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.
BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. — One by one, the high-major head coaches are filing into Blair Academy to watch Marial Shayok work out.
Yet Blair head coach Joe Mantegna believes two schools currently lead for the 6-foot-6 Canadian wing.
“Marquette and Virginia are in there hard and they were in there early,” Mantegna told SNY.tv Wednesday afternoon in the Blair gym.
“But Minnesota was in [Wednesday] and USC is in [Thursday] and Seton Hall’s in on Friday. And Boston College is in next week. And Coach [Ed] Cooley from Providence was in, so there may be other people certainly trying to close ground.”
As of now, Shayok has already visited Virginia and his only other planned visit will be to Marquette Sept. 26-28.
“[Coach Buzz Williams] was telling me more about the opportunity of coming to Marquette and how it could possibly make me a pro since they’ve gotten players not even in the top 100 to the NBA,” Shayok said of Monday’s visit. “Eight I believe and that played at my position, so he was saying I could possibly be the ninth one, so that was good.”
Shayok also met this week with Providence’s Cooley.
“He was great, he was telling me about his history and he’s just a great person,” Shayok said.
On Wednesday, Minnesota’s Richard Pitino and Dan McHale visited Shayok before meeting with Lincoln’s Isaiah Whitehead in Brooklyn.
“They just wanted to tell me more about their program and set up a visit maybe soon,” Shayok said. “They were telling me about [Pitino’s] past becasue I really didn’t know much about Minnesota. And telling me his coaching history. Obviously, he’s [Rick] Pitino’s son and I just learned a lot more about him.”
Shayok added: “They’re losing their stating two and their backup two and their starting three so obviously there’s a lot of opportunity for a lot of minutes so if I work hard and earn it I could possibly start as a freshman.”
On Thursday, it will be USC coach Andy Enfield’s chance to make his pitch. Enfield on Wednesday picked up his point guard of the future when Jordan McLaughlin pledged to the Trojans.
On Friday, Seton Hall’s Kevin Willard will come in, and Willard is also fresh off a commitment. Bishop Loughlin combo guard Khadeen Carrington pledged on Wednesday.
As of now, Shayok has no other visits planned but is considering taking others.
“I didn’t know much about any of the schools really besides watching them play on TV till the last three days so hear what every coach has to say,” he said. “So I’ll possilby go on my visit to Marquette and maybe go on a few more.”
As for when he might commit, he said, “I’m not sure, it depends on if I like it or not.”
Wherever he lands, Mantegna believes Shayok has a big upside.
“I think his mental makeup is absolutely elite,” Mantegna said. “And he’s a consistent 3-point jump shot away from being a starter in a BCS school. And he’s worked very hard on that. I think people would be very surprised how far his skillset has come this summer. I think the sky’s the limit.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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.