Typically, when a prospect announces he is going to reclassify or do a post-graduate year it is for one of two reasons – to improve his chance of getting through the NCAA Eligibility Center or to raise his recruiting stock.
But for Samuel Dingba (Cameroon/Salisbury), who announced on Wednesday night that he would be returning to Salisbury (CT) for another year, neither was a factor. Dingba is expected to be a full qualifier after this season and has well over two-dozen Division I scholarship offers to choose from.
“I think I can play now [at the college level],” he said, “but that’s not what’s most important. My academics come first.”
While qualifying isn’t an issue for Dingba, further preparing himself academically is. It was only two years ago that Dingba arrived from Cameroon and barely spoke a word of English. He’s made great strides in the time since, earning placement on the honor roll and being named Salisbury’s most improved student as a junior. But he wants to further prepare himself before moving on to a college curriculum.
“I still struggle with my English and I need to improve my reading before going to college,” he said. “I rely a lot on my tutor and I want to learn to do my work without her next year.”
While Dingba had more than 20 scholarship offers in 2013, he visited four schools officially this fall – St. Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, Quinnipiac, and Boston University. Wednesday was expected to be the day in which he made his decision. Make a decision he did, although it presumably wasn’t one any of those four schools were expecting.
Dingba emphasized that his decision had nothing to do with basketball and that he hopes to stay involved in all four programs. Salisbury head coach Jeff Ruskin pointed out that the coaches have all been very respectful of the decision and will continue to recruit Dingba in the class of 2014.
While that’s undoubtedly true, Dingba’s move back to the class of 2014 is bound to bring recruitment from a wider range of high-level programs as well. Despite checking in at 6-foot-6, he is arguably the most dominant defensive player in New England hoops. Not only is he a tremendous shot-blocker with incredibly long arms, but he also has the versatility to guard multiple positions at the next level. With an offensive game that’s improved as quickly as his reading skills over the last two years, another year of development will only add that much more value to him as a prospect. Finally, there is no denying the intangibles that a player of his character brings to the table.
“I tell people that basketball is the third best part of Samuel,” added Ruskin. “Samuel, the person, is the best. His work ethic and study habits come next, and then basketball.”
For a young man who is one heck of a basketball player, that’s a pretty impressive statement.