Mezie Offurum dashed into the open floor, like a sprinter pushing off the starting blocks, and raised his right arm like a streaking wide receiver.
This is where Georgetown Prep’s 6-foot-6 wing feels most comfortable, in the open floor, where positions don’t exist and his skill and athleticism can shine in space. This play came in the second half of a DeMatha Summer League game earlier in June, and Little Hoyas point guard Jared Bynum fed Offurum in stride. It then took just two thundering steps for Offurum to get from a foot behind the three-point line to inside the paint, and he rose for a two-handed dunk that drew a cheer from the thinned crowd.
“I love playing in transition,” Offurum said Monday. “I think it’s the strongest part of my game, and I need to get the rest up to speed.”
It was what he displayed in that sequence — the awareness, the length and quickness, the punctuating dunk — that led to offers from Maryland, Indiana, Virginia Tech and a bunch of other schools last summer and fall. But Offurum’s recruitment has stalled a bit since, with only Rhode Island and Hofstra extending offers so far in 2017. A high-major college assistant, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of NCAA rules that prohibit discussing potential recruits, said Offurum will likely land with a Division I program in the Atlantic 10 or Colonial Athletic Association. The coach added that Offurum is in between positions and has the potential to be an effective big guard if he further develops his perimeter skills.
Offurum, who is a rising senior and plays for the D.C. Blue Devils’ 17U team on the AAU circuit, was critical of his high school season and stressed a need to polish his jump shot and ball-handling. Offurum visited Old Dominion this past Friday and plans to visit Alabama-Birmingham at the end of June and Rhode Island in July. He holds offers from all three schools.
“He’s been working really hard, and right now I’ll say he’s at the mid-major level but still in position to be a high-major just depending on his growth,” said D.C. Blue Devils director Keith Williams. “A good July could move you way up. I think he’s a hell of a prospect. He’s got length; he’s got speed, you know? He’s got vertical athleticism, so he’s in a great spot and can only improve from here.”
He is also in a high school program that encourages positional versatility. Georgetown Prep Coach Ryan Eskow, who previously worked as an assistant at Catholic University, charges all of his players to learn every spot on the floor. That is because the Little Hoyas’ free-flowing offense is contingent on constant movement — on the ball and off the ball — and shooting from all positions. It requires forwards to know what guards do, and vice versa.
A player such as Offurum, who started out on junior varsity before growing six inches, would be stuck in the paint in some situations. Eskow has only challenged Offurum to diversify his game.
“I don’t want to lock anyone into one position, and I want everybody to be able to learn how to play facing the hoop and with their backs to the basket,” Eskow said. “So I want them to develop both guard skills and forward skills. Because at the end of the day, colleges want guys who can be flexible. The more versatile you’re going to be, the more opportunities you’re going to have on the court. I think he can be an example of that for sure.”
That was echoed by Ricardo Rush, who sees a lot of upside in Offurum’s future if he becomes a more confident ballhandler. Rush coaches the D.C. Blue Devils’ 17U team and also noted how Offurum is constantly thinking the game. That can be good, such as when Offurum asks questions about defensive rotations, sees something a coach doesn’t or finds a way to be more efficient offensively. But it can also be a bad thing, such as when he is overly critical of himself or puts too much stock in how things look.
Rush said he wants Offurum to focus more on the result and thinks Offurum is an “unguardable” player who is ready to impress in July. Offurum’s D.C. Blue Devils qualified for the Under Armour Association finals (which start July 12), and they will have two other live evaluation periods to play in front of college coaches. Offurum, after tasting high-major attention last summer, is gearing up for a big showing.
“College coaches have told me they really like my versatility,” Offurum said. “They compare me to a Swiss Army knife that can do all things well in any kind of role. I want to now show that I cannot just do a bit of everything but do a bit of everything at a really high level.”
» Good Counsel wing Deson Flood was offered by Army on Sunday, Good Counsel Coach G.J. Kissal told The Post. Flood, who is 6-foot-6 and in the Class of 2018, previously had an offer from Howard. Kissal also said Flood has received interest from Toledo.
» Maret guard Raphe Ayres was contacted by Cornell, Holy Cross and Loyola (Md.) this past Thursday, he told The Post. That was the first day that Ayres, who is 6-foot-5 and in the Class of 2019, could be directly contacted by college coaches. Ayres said that Loyola told him it was planning to see him play soon. He previously received interest from Missouri, Columbia, Division III Wesleyan and a few other D-III schools. Ayres plays AAU basketball for the Arlington Rockets.
Catch up on basketball recruiting in the area …