Akok Akok was back in the headlines this week, leading the Mass Rivals to the finals of the Adidas Summer Championships for the third time in four years.
The Putnam Science big man drew widespread praise from various national media outlets. 247 bumped him up to five-star status while Rivals declared him the best player at the event.
For those who saw Akok at the 2018 National Prep Championship though, this week was just another reminder of what he’s capable of when he’s fully locked in and the motor is running at full throttle.
Akok’s ascension has been a rapid, yet consistent, one over the years. It was little over two years ago that this long, ultra skinny forward with some shooting touch was being billed as the next Wenyen Gabriel.
He made the move to Putnam Science Academy for the 2016-2017 season and drew early offers during the fall open gyms but barely got off the bench once the season started as he was buried behind a deep frontcourt that included the likes of Alexis Yetna (South Florida), Malik Ondigo (Texas Tech), and Isaac Kante (Georgia) among others.
His national breakout came in April of 2017 when he starred with the Mass Rivals at the first session of the Adidas Gauntlet and came away with a handful of high-major offers including Louisville, N.C. State, Providence, and Virginia Tech.
After continuing to emerge over the course of last summer and landing additional offers from the likes of Creighton, Texas Tech, South Florida, and Seton Hall, it was clear that Akok was ready to play a more prominent role for the Mustangs this year. He was gradually starting to fill out his once lean frame and much more capable of playing through the level of contact that prep basketball dictates.
He did that and more this past winter and was at his best during Putnam’s run to their first ever national championship.
This spring he’s begun to add a face-up game to his arsenal as he’s beginning to put the ball on the floor. While he’s not yet quite polished in that area of the game, he’s being allowed to experiment and thus develop his playmaking ability.
On the recruiting front, Providence obviously has a lot of familiar faces and former teammates who are actively helping to recruit him in Makai Ashton-Langford, A.J. Reeves, and David Duke but Ed Cooley and company have plenty of competition.
Another former teammate, Wabissa Bede, is helping to see his current program at Virginia Tech is in the mix alongside head coach Buzz Williams. New UConn head coach Dan Hurley has also made Akok a priority while Syracuse has continued to develop momentum this spring and Maryland now joining the pursuit as well.
The list may very well get longer before it gets smaller and Akok is a name that is definitely buzzing nationally now.
Regardless of where he ends up, the long-term keys for Akok are consistency and resiliency. His combination of length, athleticism, and skill makes him the most talented prospect in New England’s class of 2019 and provides him the ability to play at the highest levels of college basketball.
He was dominant at the National Prep Championship and again last week at the Adidas Summer Championships. To maximize his potential he has to show the discipline and mentality to play that same way every time he takes the court. If he does, he’ll have a chance to play this game for a long time and at the very highest levels…because New England hasn’t seen many prospects with his natural talent and still untapped potential.