UVA Hosts Abdur-Rahim This Weekend

By Scott Ratcliffe

Photo: thehoophustle.com

It could turn out to be a very important weekend for the future of the Virginia basketball program, as New Jersey 4-star small forward Jabri Abdur-Rahim will be making an official visit to UVA Friday through Sunday.

The interest continues to grow from both sides. After extending a scholarship offer in May, Virginia coach Tony Bennett and his staff have been heavily pursuing the 6-foot-7, 200-pound wing, who says he’s been keeping in touch frequently with Bennett and the Cavaliers.

“They’ve been on me really, really hard, especially these last couple of months,” Abdur-Rahim said of the ‘Hoos. “Obviously I really like how they played in the championship game.”

Abdur-Rahim, currently rated as the 12th-best SF prospect in the country and No. 46 overall according to 247sports.com, is no stranger to the area. Earlier this month, he spent a week at John Paul Jones Arena for the NBPA’s Top 100 Camp, where he led all campers with 17.3 points a contest. He also made the second-most 3-pointers all week, 14, just two behind the camp leader.

For the first time in camp history, Bennett and other Division I coaches were allowed to evaluate the talent first-hand. This past weekend, Bennett was in attendance in Blairstown, N.J., to observe Abdur-Rahim again, this time at the Mid-Atlantic Independent Shootout, an NCAA-sanctioned live event at the star prospect’s school, Blair Academy.

Bennett is not the only Power 5 coach that’s hot on Abdur-Rahim’s trail. Over 30 of them have offered the talented forward, whose father, Shareef, starred at California before a successful career in the NBA.

Several big-name coaches were also on hand in Blairstown to see what Abdur-Rahim could do, and just like at Top 100 Camp, the kid’s game was impressive.

As a junior at Blair Academy, Abdur-Rahim averaged 15.3 points and 7.1 rebounds and led the 22-4 Buccaneers to a state championship, while gaining first-team all-state and Gatorade’s New Jersey Player of the Year honors in the process.

He carried his strong play over to the Nike EYBL 17U circuit in the spring, averaging 25 points a game for Team Playaz Club, including a high of 44 points on 15-of-23 shooting (10 of 15 from 3-point land) against Mac Irvin Fire, a team out of Illinois, in April.

Abdur-Rahim is known as a superb all-around athlete, and Bennett sees a certain similar style and potential fit in his system to that of one of his most recent NBA draft picks.

“They’ve just been telling me that I can come in and be an elite defender, and [Bennett] sees me as kind of filling a De’Andre Hunter-type role,” Abdur-Rahim said of the Cavalier staff.

Abdur-Rahim is not only a threat from long range, but can get to the rack with ease or pull up and strike from midrange as well. His basketball IQ is off the charts and he can defend multiple positions — a skill that continues to be more sought after at the college level.

We don’t have all day to go through all the schools who have expressed interest in Abdur-Rahim, so here’s just a few of the bigger-name suitors: Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Villanova, Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona, Florida, Louisville, Texas… you get the idea. The kid is a stud. He officially started playing basketball when he was 3 years old. His favorite player of all time is Stephen Curry and he compares his own game to that of NBA star Paul George. In 2016 and 2017, Abdur-Rahim was invited to participate in USA Basketball Junior National minicamps.

Abdur-Rahim said his father Shareef, who is currently President of the NBA G-League, wants him to go to “a place where you’re wanted,” he explained, adding that Dad has encouraged him to go with what feels like the most comfortable match.

“I don’t want to go somewhere where I’m chasing the school,” Jabri said, “I want someone who is really interested in me.”

Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn and Michigan are the other schools Abdur-Rahim included with UVA in terms of who’s been showing the most interest. He plans to cut his list down to a final eight schools in the near future after taking a few more official visits. He also indicated that he plans to take as much time as is needed to make the right decision for his future, so it’s not likely that any news will be coming any time soon — but you never know.

Virginia still has one scholarship available for the upcoming season (which will likely be carried over to next season), as well as one for Abdur-Rahim’s class of 2020. The ‘Hoos have received verbal commitments from guards Reece Beekman and Carson McCorkle for 2020. Beekman committed during Top 100 Camp, hours after also saying he had no timeline for a decision.

The Cavaliers are eyeing Abdur-Rahim along with fellow 4-star forwards Henry Coleman, Keon Johnson and several others. Recently, 5-star target Walker Kessler did not include UVA in the list of his final five schools.

When all is said and done, could this weekend’s visit on Grounds be a deciding factor in Abdur-Rahim’s ultimate decision? Stay tuned.