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Craig chooses SC for first official

Waynesboro (Va.) is home to Fishburne Military School and three-star center Jabari Craig. On September 5, Craig will board a flight to Los Angeles for an official visit to USC. He'll spend Friday and Saturday on his trip before boarding a flight back home on Sunday. Craig's AAU coach and adviser, Vidal Massiah, will accompany him on the visit. While Craig doesn't have the lofty ranking of some prospects, Massiah believes the Trojans could get an incredibly capable player.
"He's a very intriguing prospect," Massiah said. "He's intriguing given his lack of experience and given his height, size, strength and athleticism. If he participated in an NBA combine environment matched up against guys across the country, he's probably one of the ten best athletes in the country. I'm confident saying that. His combination of size, speed and athleticism is very impressive. That's why colleges are hopping on board now and coming after him aggressively."
His lack of experience has him a little bit behind some of the other player in his class but once everything clicks for Craig, he could be as good as he wants.
"He's not the most productive player," Massiah said. "He isn't averaging 20 and10 but he has a chance to get a double-double. The things that he does do well are NBA type things that you would look for in big guy. He runs the floor like a deer at 6'11", he protects the rim and blocks shots. He's great at screen roll defense, he can blow up any pick and roll because he moves his feet so well and guard smaller guys. He also has a very soft touch around the basket."
When Craig gets to college, he might make an immediate impact anyway.
"When he's with better players, he looks a lot better because he can finish plays that they create," Massiah said. "He's not at the point yet where he can create a lot of plays for himself. He'll hit a jump hook if he's open and he'll take a fifteen footer and nail it. If someone drops off a pass, he'll dunk it like Dwight Howard. It looks like that type of play."
That's enough to catch the attention of many of the top basketball schools.
"Coaches are looking at him and saying that, given his background and the fact that he hasn't played a lot of basketball, he's only played one season at the varsity level and a total of two and a half, going on three years of basketball. He's only scratching the surface, if that, because he hasn't played enough or been coached enough to develop a sense of what he's doing."
When he has the experience and the coaching, it's anyone's guess how good Craig can be.
"Every year he's showing more of that, picking things up, starting to understand things a bit more," Massiah said. "He's starting to do things now offensively that he's added to what he's been taught and developing a bit more. It's not the numbers or the stats, it's the fact that he's a guy who compares to other players who have been doing it for ten or more years. He's showing the ability to do things in a pretty good manner at 6-foot-11. That's what people are excited about."
Craig is currently being recruited by schools from every region in the country, from Auburn, Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Georgia Tech in the South, to Purdue, Ohio State, Marquette, Texas and Cincinnati even to USC and Arizona State on the Pacific. There are a few reasons why USC got one of those five official visits.
"It's California and Los Angeles," Massiah said. "I think it's a combination of location and the chance to play in a style that's right. He's athletic, he likes to run and jump and coach [Andy] Enfield's style, although they shoot a lot of three's and tend to be perimeter oriented, he still allows a lot of opportunities for someone like him to attack the offensive glass, be able to pick and roll, catch and finish strongly. He's a guy that might not necessarily fit into a half court style that gives him twenty post touches. He has to develop his post game and continue to develop a feel for the game."
Even with his continued development, USC wants him to play center for them badly.
"From what they told me, he's one of their top priorities at the big man position," Massiah said. "In terms of how they use him, it'll be a pick and roll, finish, attack the offensive glass and someone who can run and outrun other bigs. That's what they told me their looking for."
While USC is looking for a player like Craig, he's looking for a system similar to what the Trojans run.
"I think coach Enfield's style run, attack the basket and throw lobs, those are the types of things that fit him. He's probably a better finish right now than creator and I think playing in the post is something he'll have to develop but the system gives him the chance to be successful right away because it relies on movement."
As for his other visits, Craig has been to five campuses so far. He has three official visits set and another that's strongly being considered.
"Unofficially he's been other schools but USC will be his first official visit," Massiah said. "He's got some others planned. Arizona State, Marquette and maybe Purdue. He's already been on unofficial visits to Auburn, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, and he went to USC unofficially back in June. He also visited UCLA unofficially."
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