The University of Rhode Island completed their 2020 recruiting class over the weekend with a commitment from Ileri Ayo-Faleye, who graduated from Pennsylvania’s Cedar Crest High School and played his grassroots basketball for the York Ballers.
Ayo-Faleye was virtually unheard of at the beginning of the high school year and didn’t have a scholarship offer to his name, from any level, for most of the high school season.
He began to generate some buzz shortly after the first of the year and landed an offer from Clarion, a division II school, in mid-February. A handful of other D2 offers followed suit but when his high school season came to an end, he still did not hold a D1 offer.
At that point, Ayo-Faleye announced his intent to attend Putnam Science Academy for the 2020-21 academic year as a post-grad. That’s when the flood gates started to open.
By then, the coronavirus had already caused wide-spread quarantines, especially in the northeast, and for college coaches that meant that all of their evaluations were now made by film.
Well Ayo-Faleye’s highlights include some spectacular plays and very clear upside. That thread, supplemented by the marketing machine of the Putnam Science program, gave college coaches something to pull at, and ultimately what they found was a high-upside late-bloomer whose physical tools were potentially off the charts.
D1 offers began to pour in, roughly 15 of them in fact, with schools from the Ivy League to the A10 lining up despite the fact that they still hadn’t even seen him bounce a ball in person yet.
With expectations that his recruitment would only continue to escalate once Ayo-Faleye arrived on PSA’s campus, Rhody utilized their one remaining scholarship and added him to their 2020 class…technically.
110% committed @RhodyMBB 📸@j_muraika pic.twitter.com/8PypSJGTR8
— ileri ayo-faleye (@ileriayofaleye) August 1, 2020
The reality is that with Fatts Russell returning, along with Jermaine Harris and Antwan Walker, Jeremy Sheppard and D.J. Johnson’s eligibility set to begin, and 7 newcomers including former nationally ranked prospects like Jalen Carey and the Mitchell twins, the Rams’ roster was already loaded for the upcoming season with seemingly very little opportunity for immediate minutes.
Consequently, Ayo-Faleye becomes an ideal red-shirt candidate for a handful of reasons. First, he’ll benefit from being able to work with the coaching staff and compete against the veterans while having the luxury of being brought along slowly. Second, the Rams avoid what would have inevitably be a long and tough recruiting battle. Third, they get a jumpstart on their 2021 class.
At 6-foot-7 with explosive athleticism and a strong body, he doesn’t just have good measurements, he plays with sheer force. He has the capability of making momentum changing plays in the open floor, he can drive through contact in the half-court, and he has the upside to be a versatile defender.
Where he needs to improve is with regard to his skill-set. He has to be able to shoot the ball consistently and provide a valid threat for opposing defenses to account for behind the arc. He also just needs time to adjust to high-level competition, and the physicality and speed (both mental and physical) of play. Both will be completely unprecedented for him given his experiences to date, even more so than most incoming freshmen.
In short, Ayo-Faleye is a going to require patience and an opportunity to keep developing, but given the growth he’s shown just within the last year, there’s no reason to expect that process won’t continue. He may not be ready to contribute next season, but the reality is that the Rams won’t need him to. This commitment is about the long-term future, and if he continues to evolve along the same trajectory, we will look back and credit the recruiting ingenuity of Cox and his staff for this creative late addition to the 2020 class.