"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, November 08, 2007

An in-depth look at Chris Otule and Erik Williams

Jim Hicks is the foremost high school basketball expert in the greater Houston area. Jim is the editor of RCSSports.com, the online hub for Houston high school basketball.

So, when Marquette secured commitments from a pair of Houston-area products there was only one place to turn to learn more about Chris Otule and Erik Williams.

Below is a Q/A that Jim graciously provided -- it is full of fantastic information about these two future Marquette Golden Eagles. Jim, take it away........

Why did Chris Otule fly under the radar for such a long period of time?
With so many elite summer teams from the Houston area, it's very common for certain teams to get more exposure than others. As a result, the laws of averages finally benefited Chris with the Houston Lynx program as they participated in the George McClellan Invitational (July 14-15th) in Houston. Over five dozen D1 coaches were present to witness Chris go 'bonkers' on the boards during the Lynx's impressive win over the heavily favored Adidas sponsored T Mac All Stars.

To many college coaches, July 15th was the official coming out party for Chris Otule.
Over the course of the next week, the hype began to circulate around the country about his performance, in advance of everyone preparing to migrate to Vegas for the annual summer events. All Chris had to do was "hold serve" (which he did) and the rest is history...

Otule sounds like a raw talent. Can you describe his game?
Raw in the sense of miles on his tires, or in hoop terms - minutes played against high caliber competition. I truly believe that year to year, some kids get better and others don't. He has developed into a very dependable rebounding force. On the low post he's no longer waiting for the double team. Chris is getting the rock and making his move. It takes a certain type of attitude to get into that mode.

You currently list Otule as the 15th best player in the Greater Houston area for the 2008 class. The buzz around Otule's upside has MU fans excited -- but is he a reach for a Big East program?
The key word is 'upside', because it is currently Chris' most intriguing asset.

One very important thing to digest is the fact that Greater Houston set a national record in 2006 with the most seniors from a single city (43) to pledge / sign with D1 schools. Not New York, not LA, or any other city have exceeded that number. Last season we had (38) to ink with D1 colleges totalling (81) during a two year span. Therefore, if those players were lined up along a wall, #43 would still be a Division One player. In an effort to allow those stats a chance to soak in, think of how many D1 signees were from your state within the past season.

In a city where the talent is so tremendous, somebody has to be #40, somebody has to be #25, and somebody has to be #15. However, applying the 'Bell Curve', the #15 player in Greater Houston could very well be #3 in the entire state of Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, or even Wisconsin.

Who is the better player, Otule or Dwight Miller (whom MU also recruited)?
Two different positions. Miller is a face up forward who can guard the perimeter. Chris is more productive closer to the basket. Right now, Miller is more athletic and is a bit more developed. However, Chris is a flower that is just beginning to open up. In today's recruiting world it's almost like being on Wall Street - 'buy the rumor, sell the fact'. Right now he's a poor man's Emeka Okafor. Heck, before his 12th grade season in 2000-01, even Emeka was a poor man's version of Emeka Okafor.

Do you expect Otule to contribute as a college freshman?
Hard call. It depends on what type of season he has under a former D1 coach at Bush HS. I think many are speed balling past the facts that Chris is currently creating a resume for himself. Prior to this past July, he was known as a supplemental big body who only averaged 5ppg on varsity last season. Sure he's 1,000 times better today, but the bottom line is the bottom line, and there aren't many bodies like his around.

Otule plays for a legendary coach in what has historically been one of the state's best districts. How does Otule's team look this season?
Coach Ronnie Courtney is a living legend in the high school coaching ranks. His Willowridge HS team (featuring TJ Ford, Daniel Ewing, and Kenny Taylor) basically ignited the new revolution of recruitment for Greater Houston players. I have Bush HS picked to finish 3rd in this very tough district behind Hightower HS (featuring Garland Green - brother of NBA dunker Gerald Green) and defending champ Elkins HS (featuring Washington recruit Elston Turner - son of Houston Rocket asst coach).

Erik Williams' verbal came as a big surprise to many. What are your impressions of his game?
He's long, and long and lanky wings are in style like diamond chains in a rap video. Eric has improved so much over the past two seasons. He can stick the baseline jumper and even extend out to the curve. He rebounds well, and runs the floor even better. His high school coach John Harmatuk truly believes in the kid's ability to excel. When a HS coach loves a kid that much, that's a very good sign toward the confidence of the player.

Is Williams a true SF, or can he play multiple positions?
We're talking about an 11th grader. He still has this season and the next before establishing a true position. But as of now, he's a wing forward who'll have to play mostly on the inside with his HS team. During the summer, he'll get to freelance more on the perimeter and stuff like that.

Was MU in on these kids before Buzz Williams joined the Marquette staff?
I doubt very seriously that Marquette was anything more than Dwyane Wade's old school before Buzz arrived. Actually, after the results of Karon Bradley (from the same HS as Erik Williams), it was a very long shot for you guys to land another kid from that very same high school, especially an underclassman. That just simply proves the impact of pre-existing relationships in recruiting.

Do you expect Marquette to continue to actively recruit the greater Houston area? Is MU looking at other local kids there? As long as Buzz's real name is Brent, he'll be stalking the hoop scene in not only Houston, but Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin as well. Some coaches may not want the names of their target recruits released prematurely, so I'll stray away from listing their names.

Jim, thanks very much
Jim Hicks is the editor of RCS Sports www.rcssports.com . Also, Jim can be seen (not just heard, but seen) on the nation's only LIVE high school basketball Internet video talk show. "The Basketball Show" airs every Monday 9pm -10:30pm CT on www.houstonsports.com .


Anonymous said...

Thanks Jim. Very informative.

Anonymous said...

Great work, N Y Warrior!

Anonymous said...

This type of post is exactly why I read this blog. Very informative. Great Job. Thanks.

Joey Kaufman said...

Cool interview. Keep up the good work here.

Gene Frenkle said...

A great "get"...this time for Cracked Sidewalks. Solid interview.