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April 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM

God’s Gift Achiuwa picks St. John’s; What’s next for UW?

Washington’s efforts to bolster its front line took another blow when God’s Gift Achiuwa, a 6-foot-8 forward at Erie (NY) Community College, declined a scholarship from the Huskies and chose St. John’s.
Achiuwa, who also considered Cincinnati, signed a letter of intent with the Red Storm this morning at a news conference at ECC. The decision was hardly a surprise considering the Red Storm was one of the first major schools to recruit him. He made an official visit to St. John’s last week following trips to UC and UW.
First-year Red Storm coach Steve Lavin, who is close friends with UW’s Lorenzo Romar, has assembled a nine-man 2011 recruiting class that ranks third in the nation according to ESPN.com.
“‘Gift’ is a talented frontline player who possesses tremendous size, strength, speed and skill,” Lavin said in a statement released by ECC. “He is an ideal fit for our baseline-to-baseline attacking style of play.
“The maturity Gift gained from two years of junior college basketball with a combined 55-6 record will make him a nice complement to what will be the youngest roster in the country next season. He is fundamentally sound and comes from a program with a tradition of winning, where a strong work ethic, playing hard and discipline is demanded on a daily basis.”


The Huskies targeted Achiuwa after they failed to land two high-profile high school recruits. He visited UW two weeks ago and the Huskies could used the two-time NJCAA All-America selection who averaged averaged 22.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks as a sophomore last season.
It’s the second time Washington lost a 2011 recruit to St. John’s. Both schools went after Long Beach, Calif. forward Norvel Pelle. The Huskies also missed on San Diego big man Angelo Chol, who signed with Arizona.
It’s getting close to panic time for Washington. The Huskies have two available scholarships. They sorely need at least one big man to shore up a thin front court and the signing period ends May 18.
In many ways it appears as if Washington is pinning its hopes on Richard Peters, the former Oklahoma commit who has the Huskies at the top of his list. However, the 6-9 center needs a qualifying score on the ACT to enroll this year.
The Huskies reportedly hosted 6-11 Jamaican center Vashil Fernandez last week and ESPN.com says they’re recruiting Daouda Soumaoro, a 6-9 forward and native of Mali, Africa.
Washington has just two big men with playing experience. Center Aziz N’Diaye started 25 of 35 games while forward Darnell Gant is going to be a fifth-year senior. It appears as if 6-7 freshman forward Desmond Simmons, who redshirted last season and is returning from a knee injury, will be thrust into the rotation. Incoming freshman Jernard Jarreau, a 6-10 and 190-pound forward, may also receive minutes.
The Huskies landed in a lurch partly because of misfortune and players choosing to play elsewhere.
Tyreese Breshers would have been a junior next season, but the 6-7 forward was forced to retire from basketball due to a medical condition. Tacoma Community College forward Kevin Davis committed to UW and was slated to enroll this fall, but he won’t join the Huskies this year due to struggles on and off the court.

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