Friday brought one of the answers to the University of Rhode Island’s frontcourt needs in 2020-21.
Brooklyn native and three-star prospect Abou Ousmane verbally committed to the Rams via his personal Twitter page. The 6-foot-9 power forward also claimed offers from Texas A&M, Old Dominion, Iona and Atlantic 10 rivals Massachusetts and Saint Louis among others.
URI was able to close quickly on Ousmane, who was previously committed to Cleveland State. He announced an offer from the Rams on March 12 after being watched by assistant coaches TJ Buchanan and Austin Carroll at the National Prep Championship. Ousmane and Scotland Campus (Pa.) lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament, which was held at Connecticut College in New London.
Ousmane spent the 2018-19 season at Putnam Science (Conn.) and was initially set to reclassify to the Class of 2019 for the Vikings. A coaching change and a host of transfers at Cleveland State sent Ousmane back to his original Class of 2020, and he piled up 15 double-doubles this season for the Knights. Ousmane played his grassroots basketball with NE6 on the Under Armour circuit and with the New York-based Riverside Hawks.
The Rams have long been in search of a big man to help replace Cyril Langevine next season. URI came up empty in the fall and identified several new targets in the spring, with Langevine set to graduate after totaling 1,082 points, 966 rebounds and 166 blocked shots in four productive years. Jermaine Harris and Antwan Walker profile as returning players who can operate in the paint.
Ousmane joins a recruiting class that includes consensus three-star guards Ishmael Leggett and Elijah Wood. Leggett finished his senior season at St. John’s College High (Washington, D.C.) – alma mater of Rams coach David Cox and graduating guard Jeff Dowtin – while Wood closed his career at Berkmar (Ga.). Both signed a National Letter of Intent during the early November period.
This is also an important commitment for URI in light of two recent departures. Mekhi Long and Tyrese Martin have both entered the NCAA transfer portal within the last week, leaving the Rams with five open scholarships. URI will still be on the hunt for a perimeter scorer, another frontcourt player and perhaps some experienced guard insurance alongside Fatts Russell and Jeremy Sheppard.
The Rams are also recruiting Ousmane’s prep teammate, scoring guard Tres Berry, and remain active with a host of other targets. They’ve been listed as being involved with a pair of graduate transfers in DePaul guard Devin Gage and Georgia Tech forward Evan Cole. URI is also chasing St. Benedict’s (N.J.) big man Mounir Hima, Tennessee forward Akeem Odusipe and Charlotte transfer Malik Martin, the younger brother of former Rams great Hassan Martin.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25