Teeng Akol is in limbo. If things break the right way for the 6-foot-10, 215 pound high post player out of the Sudan and Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, he could wind up being a hot commodity this spring as one of the few remaining quality bigs on the board in the class of 2007.
But until more of his academic information can be obtained from overseas and interpreted, his status will remain up in the air.
"We're still waiting for his transcripts from overseas," said Eric Jaklitsch, assistant coach at OSNA. "To see if he has enough credits to graduate and get to the NCAA qualifying standard. He's working hard in the classroom."
If he gets the go ahead, Akol will graduate as a member of the class of 2007 this spring. But a post-graduate year seems equally likely, if not more so.
After arriving in the States in October of 2005 from the Sudan via Egypt, Akol has settled into the American game for coach Ron Stelzer at OSNA, showing a deft shooting and passing touch out of the high post. He is a skilled big man whose versatility has him ensconced on the high major radar.
"College coaches like that he's a face-up four man, that he's pretty skilled," said Jaklitsch of Akol, who is averaging 21 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks per game. "He's a high post guy that can step out, pop out, and shoot the ball well, and can score with his back to the basket. He can also pass the ball a bit."
His tenuous academic status has caused some schools to pull back, ostensibly because they need a definitive answer on his academic standing, but he still has a healthy following, led by DePaul- whose staff has probably been the most consistent in their interest- and including Pittsburgh, St. John's, and Kentucky. All four of the schools have offered, according to Jaklitsch.
"We really haven't focused on recruiting, but those are the four schools that are going at him the hardest," said Jaklitsch. "DePaul was there (with an assistant coach) at Prime Time. They're really all just waiting on the academics."
After tweaking an ankle before the New Year, Akol's play has improved of late, helped along by the return of point guard Enrique Cova Benitez, who can deliver the rock, and the addition of 7-foot-2 sophomore John Riek Suas, who arrived in mid-January and has taken some of the heat off of him.
"He played very well in both of our home tournaments (against Army Prep, Champlain St. Lambert, Solebury Prep, and Mount Zion)," said Jaklitsch. "He was very good against Oak Hill, scoring 19 points. He started playing a lot better once Enrique came back. He's played better since John started playing with us, too."
Akol needs to continue to improve his strength, and at times you would like to see him be more assertive and play with more intensity. But his skill level and upside ensure that whether he lands in the class of 2007 or 2008, he is one to watch.
"He's working on all aspects of his game," said Jaklitsch. "He's working on his shooting. He's working on stuff off of the bounce. He's trying to get bigger, stronger in the post. He's gotten stronger since the beginning of the season, and since the summer, really."