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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.
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Wednesday / February 20.
  • Precious Achiuwa wins MVP at Hoophall Classic, updates recruitment

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Precious Achiuwa went for 13 points and 11 rebounds en route to MVP honors Saturday night as Montverde (FL) Academy handily defeated Holy Prep (GA) 67-48.

    The 6-foot-9 Achiuwa is ranked No. 9 by 247Sports.com in the Class of 2019 and has kept a low profile on his recruitment. But after the game he said that North Carolina, Kansas, UConn and St. John’s were among the schools involved in his recruitment. He has yet to take any official visits, but “soon I’ll sit with my family and we’ll talk about what schools we should visit and then we’ll go forward from there.”

    UNC head coach Roy Williams recently offered Achiuwa, and followed that up with a visit to Montverde along with assistant Hubert Davis.

    “Yes, they came over to Montverde and we met and talked about obviously what they do at their program and that was pretty much it,” Achiuwa said.

    “North Carolina is one of the greatest programs of all time and I thought that was different that they took the time out to come see me, talk to me. It’s different when you talk to someone face-to-face than when it’s over the phone. I thought that was different.”

    The Tar Heels will lose Cam Johnson and likely Nassir Little on the wing.

    “Yeah, they talked about who they expect coming back next year, what positions are going to be open and guys going into the draft,” AChiuwa said. “We talked about all that stuff, yes.”

    UConn has also been actively involved, and head coach Dan Hurley and assistants Kimani Young and Tom Moore were three deep on Monday for Achiuwa.

    With the self-imposed sanctions the school has imposed, UConn will now have 12 scholarships for 2019-20 and would love for Achiuwa to fill that last scholarship. They already have guards James Bouknight and Jalen Gaffney signed on.

    “Yeah, yeah, yeah, UConn, they talk to me a lot,” Achiuwa said. “They actually came to see me one time before the season started, so they came over to the school to see me.”

    Achiuwa’s older brother, God’sgift Achiuwa, played under Steve Lavin at St. John’s, and the Red Storm is pursuing Achiuwa under head coach Chris Mullin and assistant Matt Abdelmassih.

    “The entire coaching staff actually came to see me,” he said. “I’ve lived in New York pretty much since I’ve been in the States. My brother went there. Pretty much I have a connection to them because of my brother. But I still have to sit with my family and decide what I should do for college because obviously me and my brother have different paths. We don’t have to go to the same spot. We’re just looking for the best option.”

    Kansas assistant Norm Roberts is also recruiting Achiuwa, whose mentor, Oz Cross, was on the staff under Roberts at St. John’s.

    “For a very long time, they hit me up from time-to-time,” he said. “We talk and I think Kansas has been there for a very long time.”

    Legendary Montverde coach Kevin Boyle joked that Achiuwa was considering spending next year with the school’s prep team, Montverde CBD, along with his college options. Boyle, of course, would love to have Achiuwa around for one more year before potentially going to the NBA in 2020. He’s a projected lottery pick per ESPN.com.

    Yet Achiuwa quickly put those rumors to bed.

    “That is not an option,” he said. “I know he wants that. He was definitely playing around, he wasn’t being serious.”

    He added: “My family, we value education and we value college and we just value the experience of college lifestyle, just being around a lot of athletes, students, so that’s something me and my family will consider and we think it’s very important moving forward.”

    Meantime, Achiuwa is improving since transferring last summer from St. Benedict’s by playing with a slew of other high-major recruits like Balsa Koprivica, Harlond Beverly, Moses Moody and Cade Cunningham.

    “This is probably the first time I’ve played with so many good guys,” Achiuwa said. “I look down the bench and everybody on the team is going to a Division 1 school, so it’s just being able to play with really good players and just finding what fits you and how you can impact the game and how you can help guys better and how guys can help you get better. So it’s been great.”

    Boyle, who has coached more top-3 NBA Draft picks since 2011 than any coach outside of Mike Krzyzewski,  has ideas on what Achiuwa needs to work on.

    “Obviously, he’s got a tremendous physique,” Boyle said. “He’s learning to play a little bit in that wing type of position where he’s getting comfortable. My biggest message to him is your ticket to trying to make it is being a great defender and a great rebounder and then keep improving your perimeter skills, which are good for his age and his size. When you talk about that [NBA] level, they’re not yet good enough for that level. Most guys aren’t.”

    He added: “I think Precious has a chance to be a really, really good player but to be versatile good pro player he needs to be a stat guy that has 12 points, 8 rebounds and a steal and one of the best defenders on a good team. And getting in the gym and working on his shot, and not trying to handle the ball too much and over-handle.”

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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.