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.
Rick Pitino offers Woodrich and Ousmane in one of first moves as Iona coach
BY ZACH SMART
In one of his first moves since becoming the newest men’s head basketball coach at Iona College, Rick Pitino has offered scholarships to Class of 2020 prospects Jayson Woodrich and Abou Ousmane.
Woodrich, a 6-foot-7 sharpshooter with range, and Ousmane, a traditional 6-foot-9 big with an arsenal of back to the rim moves, were instrumental in leading Scotland Campus Sports (PA) to a 40-4 overall record and a berth in the Prep National Championships in Connecticut earlier this month.
Pitino, who was fired from Louisville following a federal bribery investigation that rocked college basketball in 2017, offered the teammates via phone Wednesday.
“It’s an honor receiving an offer from a high profile coach like Rick Pitino,” said Woodrich, who authored a breakout campaign with 12 games of 25+ points and holds offers from Cleveland State, St. Louis, Stony Brook, Fairfield, Bryant, and others.
“I grew up watching him coach at Louisville and always respected the way he coached. It feels surreal having an opportunity to play for him as my coach. Over the phone, (Pitino) talked about how my game fits well with the style he likes to play. He spoke on how player development is key for him and he can help me get to the next level after college.”
Woodrich, out of Beachwood, Ohio, was a first team All State selection as a high school senior after averaging 29PPG at Beachwood High. He registered his presence on a national stage, however, hitting 13 treys in two games during the prestigious Prep National Showcase in New Haven, Conn. back in November.
Ousmane, who holds additional offers from UMass, Rhode Island, St. Louis, Texas A & M, Ohio, Toledo, and others, said the acknowledgement from a coach of Pitino’s caliber was special.
“He’s seen it all having coached at the highest levels so for him to take interest in my game and wanting to offer me a scholarship, it was definitely an honor,” said Ousmane, who is from Brooklyn originally.
“As a college player, my goal is to become one of the best bigs in the country and just establish myself as a winner.”
Ousmane averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds during his prep year at Scotland, with a memorable 32-point and 22-rebound performance during a victory over The Patrick School (NJ)’s post grad national team. Possessing a feathery baby hook, a short-range jumper, and the refined back-to-the-bucket arsenal of an old-school center, Ousmane bolstered his stock after playing his senior year at another national power in Putnam Science (CT).
Scotland head coach Chris Chaney said Ousmane’s growth and day-to-day development have been instrumental in his increased recruitment.
“I’m very proud of the development Abou has made–on the court, in the weight room and as a person,” Chaney said. “His progression from day one to now as an overall player and person is unreal.”
Pitino replaces another New York native in Tim Cluess, who drove the Iona program to tremendous success with six NCAA tournament appearances in nine years. Cluess recently retired due to health issues.
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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.