Under-the-radar recruit JJ Mandaquit has some big name schools like UCLA & Gonzaga watching | Zagsblog
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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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Sunday / July 14.
  • Under-the-radar recruit JJ Mandaquit has some big name schools like UCLA & Gonzaga watching

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    By MATT WHITFIELD

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Hawaii native JJ Mandaquit has only played high school basketball in the continental USA for one season, at Real Salt Lake Academy. The 15-year-old Mandaquit, though, impressed Saturday at Team USA U16 Training Camp, with great basketball IQ, a solid handle, and his toughness.

    “Of course [I think I’m a bit under-rated],” the Class of 2025 point guard said. “I always played with a chip on my shoulder.

    “You know, coming from Hawaii I was unknown, not a lot of exposure so now that I’m out here in the continental USA, I feel like I’m opening more eyes. And being able to be here [at the Team USA camp] people are able to see who I really am as a player,”

    Mandaquit can’t officially talk to coaches one-on-one until June 15, but going through channels he is talking to some pretty big name programs already.

    “I’ll go on a call with UCLA every week,” he said. “I just kind of built a relationship with them. I heard a little bit from Gonzaga, so those are the two main [new] schools right now.”

    Stanford, Washington State, and Hawaii have offered as well, but the youngster and his coaches are really waiting for basketball to end this summer before they get things really going.

    “My directors heard from some colleges but we’re kind of waiting…to get things picked and going,” he said.

    Growing up Mandaquit didn’t have a favorite team to watch or root for.

    “Being from Hawaii we just watched whatever [game] is on TV so, they would show all the games,” said Mandaquit.

    And despite being a long flight from certain parts of the continental U.S., Mandaquit says location will not matter in his recruitment.

    “Location, doesn’t matter in my decision. I’m open to going anywhere,” he said.

    When asked to describe himself as a player he said he sees himself as a true point guard.

    “I think I’m a leader,” he said. “I’m a floor general. I’m a true point guard. I can score when I need to, but I’m looking to make my teammates around me better.”

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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.

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