Abou Ousmane - Photo Credit: Scotland Campus

Rhody got a welcomed piece of good news on Friday when Scotland Campus post-graduate big man Abou Ousmane announced his verbal commitment to the Rams.

If that name sounds familiar to local fans, it’s for good reason. He played for Putnam Science Academy during the 2018-19 season and for NE6 in the Under Armour Association the spring and summer prior.

Ousmane committed to Cleveland State last spring, but the pledge was short-lived after an unexpected late coaching change that led him to return to the class of 2020 as a post-graduate.

The decision proved to be a good one as Ousmane played the best basketball of his career this past season under Scotland head coach Chris Chaney and pushed his recruitment to the high-major level.

What does he bring?

The New York native has a naturally wider frame but agile feet along with equally soft hands and touch. He’s an offensive center in a bit of an “old-school” way in that he’s a low post scoring threat who can operate with his back to the basket. That’s not all he can do though as he’s added to his face-up tools from 15-feet an in, especially around the elbow areas.

What Ousmane isn’t is a naturally explosive athlete. He’s not going to win any dunking contests or play up at the top of the box. Nevertheless, he’s shown an ability to both score and rebound against more explosive, and even sometimes bigger, posts.

While his conditioning remains a work in progress, wide-bodied big men like Ousmane are always an interesting case study, because while they need to be able to maximize their foot-speed and endurance, sometimes their shape is a big part of why they are so productive, and so shrinking them too much can be counter-productive.

I think that’s going to be the case with Ousmane. He’s at his best around the basket so his size helps him in a lot of different ways including establishing position and leverage in the post, creating space, and getting to his spots.

How does he fit?

Even with Cyril Langevine graduating, Rhody still has plenty of pieces up front. They don’t really have anyone like Ousmane though, who can provide a true low-post who they can throw it to on the block when the game slows down and they want to play inside-out.

Jermaine Harris loves to face-up while his power and physical tools are best utilized to finish and rebound. Antwan Walker is a versatile athlete, but not really an interior playmaker either. Jacob Toppin’s physical progress has been astounding over the course of the last year, as his body has evolved a lot like big brother Obi’s did. So while he’s 6-foot-8 and approaching 200 pounds, he’s still more of a perimeter forward or wing than he is a true big.

In other words, Rhody didn’t have anyone who could do what Ousmane can do offensively, but they do possess a ton of length and athleticism to surround him with and in so doing, more than compensate for what he may naturally lack in those areas.

How is the class shaping up?

Ousmane joins Ishmael Leggett and Elijah Wood, two DMV natives who both signed during the early singing period, in David Cox’s class. Leggett, like Ousmane, is a guy whose recruitment escalated to the high-major level. He’s a highly competitive guard, loaded with intangibles, who can play on or off the ball and is bound to be a fan favorite in Kingston. Wood is a versatile 6-foot-5 perimeter player who has the tools to be very multi-positional.

Where the Rams might be focusing the remainder of their efforts in this class is in the combo-forward area where Tyrese Martin, Dana Tate, and Mekhi Long once figured to take a lion-share of the minutes for the foreseeable future before electing to transfer. While the departures of Tate and Long shouldn’t be overly problematic, Martin’s decision to enter his name in the transfer portal was an obvious loss, but one that could be softened by Toppin’s continued ascension and another wing or combo-forward late in the class.