He’s just scratching the surface of his potential.
His best basketball is still in front of him.
He has a high ceiling…or a big upside.
There’s a lot of clichés, and candidly I’ve used them all, but essentially, they’re all just different ways to articulate the same point…that a prospect is still relatively early in his total development and has a chance to be a very good player when it’s all said and done.
That’s exactly the case when it comes to Abdou Samb, who committed to Rhode Island late last week.
The 6-foot-8 big man is coming off a junior season at Frederick Douglass High School in which he was named second-team All-State in Maryland.
I last watched Samb play just a few weeks ago, when his DC Premier squad scrimmaged a handful of other Under Armour sponsored programs from the northeast, and it was clear he had continued to take his game to new levels in the months since the season had come to an end.
Even still, it was also clear that there was lots of room for further development. To be clear, that’s not a knock, not in the slightest. Because while local fan bases may want to hear that a prospect is guaranteed to be an immediate impact player, that is almost never the case. Big men in particular, are often late-bloomers.
So, when assessing Samb and what his commitment could mean for Rhody, it’s important to assess both where he is now and where he could be a couple of years down the road.
First and foremost, he has good size and a strong natural body type. In fact, he plays bigger around the rim than even his 6-foot-8 measurements may indicate. He’s a solid athlete. He finishes above the rim and, when he can’t, he’s capable of scoring with either hand in traffic. He also protects the rim.
Samb is also mobile for his size. He changes ends well and moves well laterally when pulled away from the basket defensively. Equally importantly, he plays with good energy, which is a requisite to fully utilizing his entire range of physical tools.
Offensively, when he steps away from the basket, that’s when it gets interesting. He shows flashes of some emerging face-up game with a pretty soft natural touch and the ability to put the ball on the floor a couple of times. He’s also clearly intrigued by developing this part of his game, as he looks for it, even if it can come at the expense of his efficiency at times.
So right now, Samb is a big man with plenty of size, strength, and athleticism to provide the Rams with an interior finisher, solid rim-protector, and pick-and-roll defender.
— Douglass Basketball (@Hoopsdoug) September 12, 2020
Down the road though, he’s a prospect that could emerge into a big and multi-dimensional mismatch problem on both ends of the floor. The fact that he’s continuing to stretch his game right now could ultimately be a good thing, provided he becomes more reliable and polished with those face-up abilities and, then, learns to be more efficient with his point of attack. It’s not that big of a stretch to envision him ultimately being the type of guy who could pull opposing five-men away from the rim and then attack them off the bounce, or conversely, go inside and attack a smaller defender when he’s slotted at the four.
Defensively, there’s similar versatile upside. His potential as a weak-side shot-blocker only increases when he’s paired with another big body and doesn’t have to handle the brunt of controlling the defensive glass single-handedly, while his potential value as a pick-and-roll defender could be just as important down the road.
In short, all of the common narratives thus far around Samb’s commitment are true – it is just the latest example of David Cox’s deep-rooted relationships in the DMV, and with the DC Premier program in particular. Samb had offers up to the A10 and AAC but, nonetheless, certainly would have seen even more recruitment had college coaches been out this spring and summer.
Most of all though, he definitely will benefit from having the luxury of being brought along slowly in the deep and talented Ram frontcourt. Samb is a prospect who could be a solid addition for day one, but ultimately has a chance to be more than that as he continues to expand and stretch his game, tapping into still untouched potential and versatility on both ends of the floor.