Nnaji’s official visit to KU ‘informative,’ dad says; Hurt is accurate shooter at camp

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Zeke Nnaji’s first of five official campus visits — a Friday to Sunday trip to the University of Kansas — proved “very informative for sure,” the player’s dad, Apham Nnaji, told Zagsblog.com on Monday.

“We were able to see the need for Zeke and all the support he’ll get should he decide to go there (KU),” Apham Nnaji said Monday of his son, a 6-foot-10 senior forward from Hopkins (Minn.) High School ranked No. 37 in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com.

“Their message was for him to be a part of a winning program with proven track records to bring hard working kids to the next level,” Apham Nnaji added.

Zeke Nnaji will visit Arizona on Friday through Sunday, then UCLA (Oct. 19-21), Baylor (Oct. 26-28) and Purdue (Nov. 2-4). He made an unofficial visit to KU on Sept 29-30. That’s the same weekend Zeke’s sister, Maya, a 6-2 freshman guard/forward from Hopkins High, made an official visit to KU.

Hurt hits from outside

Minnesota power forward Matthew Hurt impressed with his long-range shooting at last weekend’s USA Basketball junior national team minicamp in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Hurt, a 6-9 senior from John Marshall High in Rochester, Minn., ranked No. 6 in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com, earned, “The Rain Maker” award from analyst Eric Bossi.

“All weekend, Matthew Hurt was making it rain from deep. There were certainly some good shooters at camp, but I didn’t see anybody more confident with his jumper and from just about anywhere on the floor than Hurt was,” Bossi wrote at Rivals.com. “His size allows him to shoot over pretty much anybody and his mechanics are tremendous. Because he can balance that shooting with scoring at the rim or off the dribble, Hurt has one of the more complete offensive games in 2019.”

Hurt has a recruiting list of KU, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota and North Carolina. He’s yet to schedule any campus visits.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, the No. 10-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2019 according to Rivals.com, earned Bossi’s “Good Neighbor” award from USA Basketball camp.

“Everybody needs a good neighbor to lend a hand from time to time. If the neighbor helps out enough times, they grow into a friend. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is kind of similar to that as a basketball player,” Bossi wrote at Rivals.com of Earl, 6-9 from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., formerly of Bishop Miege. “He doesn’t bring attention to himself with flash. He gets attention because of his steady, consistent and productive work on the glass and as an inside-out scorer. He’s in tremendous shape at IMG and has also turned into a really dangerous pick-and-pop shooter,” Bossi added.

Robinson-Earl has visited KU, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Villanova and will visit Arizona this weekend.

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Report: Aldrich headed to China

Former KU center/NBA veteran Cole Aldrich is expected to play for the Tianjin Gold Lions, a pro basketball team in Tianjin, China, according to Sportando. He is expected to replace 7-footer Dejan Musli of Serbia, who has reportedly failed a physical exam with the Gold Lions.

Aldrich, who turns 30 on Halloween, recently was cut by the Atlanta Hawks after one exhibition game. The move reportedly was to allow him to finalize a deal with the team in China. The 6-11, 250-pound Aldrich has played for six teams in an eight-year NBA career. He spent the past two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Pitino said Allen is toughest place to play

Allen Fieldhouse tops Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino’s list of “most difficult arenas my teams have faced.” He posted the list Wednesday on Twitter.

KU’s tradition-rich arena is followed by the homes of Kentucky, Michigan State, SMU, West Virginia and Grand Canyon.

“For a program in its infant stages of college basketball, its student section is amazing,” Pitino, the former Louisville and Kentucky coach, wrote of Grand Canyon.

Wiggins plans on leading team

Former KU guard Andrew Wiggins is promising to be more vocal in this his fifth season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“Everyone has their own personality, their nature of the game,” Wiggins, 23, told Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I’m just trying to expand mine a little bit. I’m going to be in attack mode, stay aggressive and do whatever I can to help the team win. This year I have a different mindset.”

Wiggins signed a five-year, $148 million deal prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. He responded by averaging 17.7 points and 4.4 rebounds a game. He hit 43.8 percent of his shots, including 33.1 percent of his threes.

“He can hit a game-winner or miss a game-winner and his facial expression and his demeanor would be the same,” Rob Fulford, Wiggins’ high school coach, now an assistant coach at Akron, told the Star-Tribune. “He’s such a very low-key, laid-back guy. That’s not a good thing or a bad thing. But people like the rah-rah guys. Certain guys are great at being rah-rah guys. Other guys aren’t. He probably gets a knock more than he should,” Fulford added.

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