2014 forward Abu enjoyed recent talk with Calipari

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 15, 2013 

The scholarship offers — and the attention — keep pouring in for class of 2014 forward Abdul Malik Abu.

He's trying not to think about it.

Instead of waiting by the phone and dwelling over which major college coach might or might not call him next, Abu has been in the gym fine-tuning his game for a grueling summer schedule.

Kentucky is one of the most recent schools to get involved with his recruitment. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward caught the Cats' attention while playing for the Elite Youth Basketball League's Expressions Elite squad this spring.

UK assistant Orlando Antigua gave him an introductory call in April. Abu was excited, but he didn't let that mess with his routine.

"I got back in the gym and just kept grinding," he said. "I kind of stayed away from contact with coaches — trying to better myself in the gym first. Then, before I came to camp, Orlando called me back again and said that Cal wants to speak to me."

That was Tuesday — and Calipari called back the very next day.

"It was good," Abu said of that conversation. "He's a very confident man, and he's very convincing. He's clear and clean cut. He doesn't want to beat around the bush with you.

"It's an offer I feel like I can get if I just play the right way and keep playing tough."

He'll have plenty of opportunities to prove himself against the best big men in his class. In addition to this week's National Basketball Players Association Top 100 camp, Abu said he plans to participate in the Amare Stoudemire camp, the LeBron James Skills Academy, the Nike Global Challenge and the Nike EYBL finals at Peach Jam.

The four-star forward is too busy with basketball to worry too much about his recruitment. When he finally sits down to go through his list of schools, it could take awhile.

He's had standing offers from Florida, Michigan State, UConn, Cincinnati, Maryland and Wisconsin, among several others. Kansas, Tennessee and North Carolina State are among the most recent to offer.

Abu — who was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Nigeria about 25 years ago — doesn't have any official visits planned and has so far seen only a few of the schools around his hometown of Boston.

If an offer were to come from Kentucky, he said he'd "definitely" take a trip to Lexington.

Abu is well aware of UK's program and has been following the Cats over the past few seasons

"It's hard not to. It's Kentucky," he said. "They're on TV all the time. But that doesn't really come into play for me — the hype or the media. I just want a style of play and a good fit. And if Kentucky has that for me, that could be a great decision for me. But if they don't, I have other options."

When Abu and Calipari discussed the player's possible role as a Wildcat, the UK coach brought up returning sophomore Alex Poythress as a comparison to how Abu might be used on the floor.

Abu sees himself as a "face-up four" who can play away from the basket and stretch defenses. He said his hard-working, grinding style has often been compared to Thomas Robinson, who had great success at Kansas before being selected as a lottery pick in 2012.

The NBA is Abu's ultimate goal.

"Every kid's dream is to play in the NBA, no matter how old," he said. "You look up to players (like) LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The fact that Kentucky sends a plethora of their guys to the NBA is a good feeling. That's why I assume a lot of kids go there, because they want to fulfill their dreams. Playing in the NBA is a dream of mine, too. And if I was to land a Kentucky offer, it would be a great consideration.

"But I'm going to go to the best fit, and not to my highest offer."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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