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October 10, 2013

Jabari Craig is a Trojan

Fishburne Military School center Jabari Craig just wanted to end the speculation and choose a college. After narrowing his choices down to two, he verbally committed to USC and made the decision public on October 10. His AAU program director, Vidal Massiah of King Nation Basketball says that Andy Enfield's style was the biggest attraction.

"There's a number of factors," Massiah said. "The biggest is style of play. It's exciting, and it's something that he wants to be a part of. He can thrive there. Everyone involved agrees that it would be better suited for him right now where he's at with his development."

Not only will it help Craig develop, it's a style of play that will keep him interested and involved in the game.

"Obviously they play an exciting style. It's up and down, it's fast paced, it's supposed to be dunk city. Any kid is going to want to be a part of something that exciting. I think the biggest thing was the style of play and then after that you go down the list of why USC fits him. I think from a basketball standpoint it really started with the style of play."

The three-star prospect also has a fantastic relationship with the coaches behind the style of play.

"Of all the schools that recruited him, he has the best relationship with USC's staff," Massiah said. "I think Andy Enfield's style and the relationship they have played a big role in his decision. He's a great communicator, really detailed, and he's had success on and off the court. Also his relationship with Jason Hart. He's someone that's played in the NBA at the highest level, been around a ton of pros and he's young enough to still speak his language. I think the combination of those two is what works."

The visit to USC on September 7 was also significant. He experienced a snapshot of college life with a future teammate.

"The visit allowed him to see exactly what it would be like to be there when students where there. I think going to a football game, seeing a pep rally and how the students get behind their student athletes in a game day atmosphere was definitely exciting. I think it would be for any kid. The visit also gave him a chance to connect with Jordan McLaughlin. Once Jordan committed, it really got the ball rolling. Obviously every big guy needs a good point guard."

It was more about an exciting experience than him learning about USC. Even though he's Canadian and plays high school basketball in Virginia, Craig is familiar with USC's athletic program.

"He's always known about USC," Massiah said. "They were always one of his favorite schools for whatever reason. It's always been a school he's been fond of."

That paid off for this new coaching staff. When Craig signs in November, the Trojans will have a skilled center to replace D.J. Haley and Omar Oraby in 2014.

"He's a big, 6-foot-11, mobile athlete. He's good on both the offensive and defensive end," Massiah said. "He's very agile and able to guard multiple positions both inside and outside. He has a great touch around the basket, he's very athletic and a goaltender. He blocks a lot of shots. I think with a great point guard, he's going to be a big-time finisher above the rim. He can finish with a jump hook or a bank shot. He's also got a good jump shot and a pretty good offensive set that's only going to get better."

According to Massiah, Craig might have the potential to be among the best players in the country in a couple of years

"I think that's why he was recruited at this level, by schools in the Big East, ACC, SEC and Pac-12. He has so much room to grow. The bigs normally develop late. He's a couple years away maybe from reaching his potential and at that point he has all the tools to be a dominate player."



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