Abdulai Bundu may be the only forward in Prince George’s County surprised he’s emerging as a highly coveted recruit. Opposing defenders he’s dunked on probably believe it. Guards driving to the basket who find their shots blocked far out of bounds probably believe it, too.
But Bundu is surprised: “I’m new to this whole recruiting process. Playing the game, I really didn’t think I would be highly recruited like I am now, wanted like I am now. I thought I would just be an average player.”
Though he’s a relative latecomer to basketball, it’s hard to see a point in Bundu’s career where “average” looked like a probable outcome. As a sophomore — his third year of competitive basketball — he averaged 18 points and nine rebounds, a near double-double a night in grueling Prince George’s 2A. That showing earned him a spot on Team Takeover’s 16U team, and he “jumped at the chance” to join what he calls “one of the best teams in the area and in the nation.”
Then last season, he exploded. He averaged 25 and 12 while dominating in the paint, deterring opponents from taking shots with the threat of where he might send them if they did. So he headed into this summer poised for a recruiting boom, one that grew louder when Team Takeover’s coaches started positioning him further and further from the basket. He got more minutes as a small forward/swingman than deep in the paint, and his game grew accordingly.
“I was able to develop my offensive game from the outside instead of just staying in. This year, my senior year, I’ll be expected to play more outside than inside,” Bundu said. That’s exactly what college coaches want to see from the 6-foot-8 Bundu. Quinnipiac, Towson, LIU-Brooklyn and Rider have offered him this summer, envisioning the matchup problems his explosiveness and versatility could provide as a three. Bundu says most coaches have told him to work on his ball-handling and outside IQ. On Team Takeover, he’s had to build both skills to keep up with high-scoring teammates.
“At first I didn’t feel like I really fit in [on Team Takeover],” Bundu said. “I was on a team full of scorers, they were all ball handlers, better ball handlers, better shooters than me. So it took me awhile.”
Bundu was also a little behind his Team Takeover teammates on the recruiting journey. At one point, he says, the team’s entire starting five was committed. While he felt isolated, Bundu says he benefited from the presence of those highly recruited teammates: when coaches came to check up on their recruits, they saw Bundu, a relative unknown, and his interest spiked.
Bundu’s AAU summer season wrapped up last weekend, meaning it’s nearly time for him to refocus on Largo basketball, which returns several key pieces from a 2013-14 Prince George’s 2A title contender.
“Coming in [to this season], I feel like I have pressure on me, but I don’t need to feel it as much,” Bundu said. “…some people might expect me to come in and average 30 and 15. I just want to win a championship before I leave Largo High School, so whatever I can do, whatever I have to average, I’m willing to do it.”
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