Mass. PF starting to live up to potential

Abdul-Malik Abu (Marblehead, Mass./Kimball Union) was one of New England’s biggest winners of the April live period.

Coming into the month the sophomore big man was considered by many to be on the verge of a breakout. Coming out of the month and that breakout is a thing of the past, as he has now solidified himself as a high-major frontcourt target in the class of 2014.

Abu now holds offers from Iowa State, Michigan State, Providence, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Temple, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island according to his Expressions Elite head coach Tyron Boswell. He’s also generating additional interest from the likes of UConn, Kansas, Wake Forest, and N.C. State.

The most immediately noticeable development in Abu’s game as of late has been his physical progression. He’s always been a big, strong kid with the type of frame that would give him a chance at the high-major level, but he’s grown another inch since the fall, and more importantly started to grow into his body, allowing him much more explosiveness in terms of his ability to move laterally and get off his feet.

With the requisite physical tools being met in each potential area, he’s also started to show some growth with his basketball skill set. A year ago, he was a banger – a guy who relied on his naturally big frame to score and rebound inside the paint – but now he’s showing flashes of being able to do some work on the perimeter. There were flashes of that skill set throughout the last month, as he has become a threat to make open jumpers from 15-18 feet and a guy who may not blow by you off the dribble but can definitely face-up to attack and get himself close enough to the rim where his physical tools can take over.

Those who know Abu best will tell you the next step in his development needs to be a little bit of a mean streak inside the lane. To his credit, he’s a very articulate and sincerely kind young man, but he’s got to learn to leave that on the sidelines when he steps between the lines because the fact of the matter is his size and strength provides him with an opportunity to be an absolute beast inside the paint.

If that is an identity that Abu can learn to embrace, and if he can work to add a signature move with his back to the basket, his recruitment will turn into an all-out race to see which high-major program can land his services.