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.
A newfound toughness in the post and vastly improved mid-range game has elevated the high-major stock of Yankuba Sima.
Maryland, Arizona, and Louisville all have been in persistent pursuit of the 6-foot-11 2015 forward/center. Yankuba dropped 15 points (7-for-9 FG), ripped down six rebounds, blocked a shot and manipulated about four others during a 15-minute span of Elev8’s 93-90 resume win over Hargrave Military Academy earlier this month.
“Maryland, Arizona, and Louisville have shown the most love,” said Sima, who has packed muscle onto a leafy frame while subscribing to the role of rim protector.
Maryland has offered the behemoth, who has provided a high-efficiency scorer and sturdy rebounding presence for Elev8 the past two months.
Terps head coach Mark Turgeon and assistant Dustin Clark have pursued Sima at a steady pace.
Maryland could certainly benefit from a big, defensive-minded forward to border 6-foot-9, 240-pound Robert Carter, 7-foot-1 Michael Cekovsky, and 6-foot-11 Damonte Dodd in the paint.
The Terps (22-5) have ripped off four of their last five heading into a scalding Feb.24 matchup against Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, the rapidly evolved Bronson Koenig and 25-2 Wisconsin.
“His top two would have to be Maryland and Arizona and Maryland has really done the most with him,” said Elev8 coach Chad Myers, adding that Mark Turgeon and staff have seen Sima play on four occasions this season.
The 16th best player in Florida according to the 247 Composite Rankings, Sima’s ability to finish with contact and play with more confidence has spurred a quick-hit uptick in production.
Originally a considerably raw project, Sima has suddenly earned plaudits from his teammates and the in-house practice competition.
“When he first got here he was off to a bit of a slow start,” said Elev8’s transcendent 6-foot-5 wing Kobie Eubanks.
“He was a bit slow and not used to taking contact down low. The more he worked out and the more he got in the gym, the more he started to impress his. On the boards he’s been great. We found out he’s got a lot of moves and he’s got a mid-range game to him as well. He’ll even step out and pop that three if he has to.”
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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.