Despite being off to a late start, Jeff Capel and Pitt have made up a lot of ground with a top 2019 prospect.
2019 4-star power forward Akok Akok from Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Connecticut announced his final five schools and it included Pitt.
Pittsburgh Sports Now has learned that Akok will make five official visits to the following schools: Providence (September 28), Georgetown (October 5), UConn (October 12), Syracuse (October 19) and Pitt (October 23).
Akok (6-9, 200) is rated by Rivals as a Top 30 2019 recruit and one of the Top 10 power forwards in the country.
Capel’s goal for the upcoming class is to land two or three big men and Akok would be a major get for Pitt.
To learn more about Akok, Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke to Tom Espinosa, the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Putnam Science Academy.
”I think Akok will be a pro because his two biggest strengths are unique. He’s someone that blocks shots and can hit the three, which is a pretty tough combination,” said Espinosa.
“The kid is special. I’ve had him for three years. The first year, he didn’t play because he had four high D-I bigs ahead of him. However, he practiced hard every day, had a good attitude and then the following summer he just blew up and had a great year last year and we went on to win the prep school national championship. He’s a special player.”
Akok strengths are his outside shooting and shot-blocking ability. What is he working on this year prior to moving onto D-I basketball?
”Last year when he started for us, the times he struggled was when he didn’t rebound and putting the ball on the floor,” said Espinosa. “Akok is a catch and shoot guy and catch and pass guy. We talked about that and as the season progressed, he got a lot better. At this point, he’s doing both of those things at a high level but we’re going to continue working on it. The number one thing we just need to work on is him putting the ball on the floor. He’s gotten a lot better but we’ll continue to work on it.”
”I guess another thing is him continuing to get stronger physically which he has. If you’d have seen him when he arrived here, he’s twice the size but he needs to continue working to get stronger.”
Getting in Akok’s final five is big news for Pitt and the fact that they’re there actually surprised his coach.
”I haven’t talked to him about the teams but obviously Pitt must’ve really impressed him because they came in pretty late,” said Espinosa. “Providence, Syracuse, Georgetown have been recruiting him for two years now and have been here a lot but Pitt has really come on late. Maryland, Virginia Tech and others were trying hard but Pitt made the list. I’m not sure sure of the connection but they’re obviously doing something right.”