Tijan Jobe. Bawa Muniru. Peter Jurkin.
Those names might not evoke the most positive feelings from Indiana basketball fans, at least when it came to their on-court production. Undeterred, Tom Crean might be looking to the Indiana Elite/A-HOPE pipeline once again for a 7-foot-3 center out of the class of 2017. From Kyle Neddenriep at the IndyStar:
At 7-2, Bol Riek is accustomed to stares from curious onlookers. At an AAU tournament earlier this month in Dallas, fans asked for photos with him. His Indiana Elite coach, Ryan Owens, laughed when Riek jokingly told them, "For five dollars."
His height is not the only reason Riek is generating attention. The South Sudan native has piqued the interest of several college coaches this spring, playing with the Indiana Elite 2017 squad. Riek has early interest from Bradley, Indiana, Indiana State, Purdue and Xavier.
Certainly, it's early in the process. Riek is still more than two years from showing up on a college campus, and it would be foolish for Indiana's staff to not at least evaluate a player of his size's ability on the floor.
But can he play?
Riek isn't even entered in any of the major recruiting databases (Rivals, 247, ESPN) yet. Neddenriep terms him a basketball newcomer:
Riek, who came to the United States through the AHOPE program, has only been playing basketball for about two-and-a-half years. He attends Mooseheart High School in Batavia, Ill., but was unable to play last season after Illinois' high school association restricted the eligibility of international students.
Basketball wasn't Riek's sport of choice growing up – it was soccer.
"I'd play soccer all day," he said. "I started getting tall and people started to talk to me and tell me I was going to be good at basketball so I should check it out. I came here and saw a lot of people took it serious so I said, 'I'm going to take it serious, too.'"
Owens said Riek's offensive ability is blossoming, though he is still learning many of the basketball basics that kids in the U.S. learn at a much earlier stage. Riek said he must become a stronger presence on defense. He showed a nice touch around the basket this weekend at the Adidas Gauntlet event in Fishers and Noblesville.
If Riek were to eventually end up at Indiana, he'd be a rare on-court success story at Indiana with the A-HOPE program. Jobe, while becoming a internet fan favorite, rarely saw the floor in his two years with the program from 2008-10. Both Muniru and Jurkin transferred out of the program, ending up at Tennessee State and East Tennessee State respectively. Muniru still couldn't find minutes at the OVC school in Nashville, eventually ending up at NAIA Lee University, where he averaged around 8 minutes a game as a senior. Jurkin sat out last season at ETSU, per NCAA transfer rules.