Florida Gulf Coast became the first 15-seed to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s men’s basketball Sweet Sixteen on Sunday night. It was also the first school to offer Coolidge center David Kadiri a scholarship earlier this winter, a fact that hasn’t been lost on the 6-foot-8 center as he tries to navigate the recruiting process.
But what really has Kadiri’s attention about the small school from Fort Myers, which only began fielding a basketball team in 1997, is the style in which it has won this past week. Florida Gulf Coast didn’t just upset No. 2 Georgetown and No. 7 San Diego State in a span of four days – it dismantled both teams in Philadelphia with an above the rim approach highlighted by a number of dazzling alley-oops and slams, earning the Eagles the nickname “Dunk City” and cementing the program’s place as this year’s tournament darling.
“I really like their style of basketball play,” Kadiri said Sunday. “They push the ball and run the floor, and that’s what I like to do.”
Kadiri became the centerpiece in Coolidge’s run to both the DCIAA and DCSAA titles this season – and much of that was attributed to his development as a true post player. But with Kadiri’s raw athletic ability, and his penchant to run the floor, it’s now apparent why he has been on Florida Gulf Coast’s radar as a prospect. He averaged 13.7 point per game this winter, and was among the city’s most prolific dunkers this season, which included a two-handed slam that shut the door on Ballou in the DCSAA title game at the Verizon Center two weeks ago. As Coolidge guard Travaughn Newell said earlier this winter, “David, he’s always hyped for anybody.”
Now he’s hyped for Florida Gulf Coast, although he has plenty of other interest pouring in. Kadiri said that he will be speaking with coaches from Quinnipiac later this week, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi expressed interest last week. In addition to Florida Gulf Coast, he currently has offers from North Carolina A&T, Duquesne, Gardner-Webb, Niagara, Stony Brook and UMBC.
Kadiri said he plans to meet with Coolidge Coach Vaughn Jones this week to arrange a visit to the Fort Meyers in the near future, adding that seeing “Dunk City” up close is something that will be important as he prepares to make a decision.
“It definitely makes me think about the school a lot more,” Kadiri said. “It does make a big impact.”
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