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NBA PM: Meet Top 2015 Recruit Ivan Rabb

Ivan Rabb, the top prospect in the class of 2015, discusses his game, college decision and much more … Does Stephen Curry want to sign with his hometown Charlotte Hornets?

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Basketball Insiders catches up with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky at the 2014 adidas Nations.

Meet Ivan Rabb, 2015’s Top Recruit

It’s likely only a matter of time until Ivan Rabb is a household name. Talent evaluators are already drooling over Rabb, who is an ambidextrous 6’10.5 power forward with a 7’3 wingspan.

Rabb was named the top recruit in the 2015 high school class by ESPN, and he averaged approximately 27 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks per game as a junior at Bishop O’Dowd High School while continuing to improve his jump shot, ball-handling and strength throughout the year.

Now, entering his senior year, Rabb is receiving interest from just about every major program in the country, with offers from Arizona, California, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State, Ohio State, UCLA and USC among others.

“The schools I’m considering the most right now are Cal, UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, Georgetown, Duke, Arizona and North Carolina,” Rabb told Basketball Insiders. “The most important thing for me besides basketball is a good business [program]. I want to go to school that will set me up for my business degree that I’m going to do after basketball or during basketball. Other than that, on the court I want to go to a school that’s going to utilize my full potential by me moving around the court, allowing me to pass the ball and score inside and score outside, a good team that is going to defend, rebound in a family atmosphere. That is the biggest thing for me.”

While he’s capable of finishing at the basket – with power and finesse – Rabb chooses not to take many shots. Rabb has excellent court vision for a big man and is extremely unselfish. His highlight reels feature just as many no-look passes as poster dunks. When asked what his biggest strengths are, Rabb mentions his passing first. He really enjoys being a distributor and making his teammates better.

“It makes your teammates want to play with you,” Rabb said. “I like to be known as a guy other people like to play with. If people like to play with you, then they’ll want to facilitate for you too. It makes your job easier and it makes their job easier.”

Rabb also takes pride in his shot blocking. His outstanding athleticism and terrific instincts help him as a rim protector. He has had multiple games with double-digit blocks, and it’s not uncommon to see him reject several shots in a single possession. His blocks are memorable, as he often swats the ball off the backboard or simply catches it out of midair with two hands.

“I’ve always had the gift of blocking shots and staying out of foul trouble as well,” Rabb said. “That’s not really natural from what I know now, a lot of people can’t do that to keep the ball in play and get a block in the same possession. I just like taking pride in getting blocks and getting rebounds at the same time.”

Rabb lists his strengths as “passing, rebounding on both defense and offense, and scoring from the block” and he studies game film of Kevin Garnett, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony among others to improve his game.

“I think the biggest thing for me is to gain weight and get stronger,” Rabb said when asked about areas where he needs to improve. “I’ve gained weight since last year in the USA trials. I’ve gained about 10 pounds; I’m 215 now. I think that’s the biggest thing in my game that I need to improve on. And as I’m doing that, I’m going to continue to work on my shooting from all areas of the court just so I can stretch the defense more and make the game easier on myself.”

Rabb is competing in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships as a member of Team USA. Previously, he donned the red, white and blue jersey as a member of USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team that won the gold medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay. He was also named to the 2013-14 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team in March. Rabb is honored to be part of the USA Basketball program.

“It’s been a really fun experience,” Rabb said. “The best thing about it is everyone is really good so you can’t take a play off, you can’t take a practice off, you have to go hard all of the time and it just makes everybody better. You create relationships with people that you want to know for many years so I really enjoy that. It’s really cool. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to do this. I’m blessed and happy about it, that’s all I can really say. It means a lot to represent the country and also my city.”

As the top recruit in the 2015, Rabb has been in the spotlight. He went from being relatively unknown to having all eyes on him. He admits that his life has changed since he has started to fly up recruit rankings.

“It’s just everything got really hectic,” Rabb said. “There has been a lot more attention on me and in everything I do, I have to always represent my family, my school and now my country. I have to always be on the right path. Sometimes I don’t really get to be a kid all of the time. When I’m at home somebody always wants to talk to me and things like that. I never really get to chill out with friends. I just have to grow up quicker and it just comes with the territory.

“[To deal with the pressure], I keep in touch with a lot of players from the USA team and things like that. We always talk about some of the bad things and some of the good things that happen too. It helps to have people who are in the same position as I am, so I’m not the only one.”

Rabb has played with some excellent players as a member of the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, including Aaron Gordon, Nick Johnson, Stanley Johnson and Brandon Ashley among others.

“Every time they see me they just make sure my head is on the right track and that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do in the class and on the court,” Rabb said.

All of those players went on to play at Arizona, which has some people believing that Rabb will be the next player to go from the Soldiers to the Wildcats. Rabb said that this assumption annoys him and insists that he’s still weighing all of his options.

“It annoyed me a lot more when I was younger because I had to hear all of the time because I went to the same school as Brandon and things like that, [I was going to go to Arizona],” Rabb said. “I kind of got used to it and just because all of those guys went there doesn’t mean I will go. But it also doesn’t mean because people were annoying me about it that doesn’t mean that I won’t go there either. I’m just trying to make the best decision for myself in the long run. That may be the right destination, but at the same time it might not.”

Rabb says he doesn’t have a timetable to make his college decision. One thing that he has discussed is possibly teaming up with fellow top prospects Diamond Stone and Malik Newman, who Rabb describes as his best friends. He has talked to them about this and it’s definitely a possibility. All three players are considered five-star recruits by ESPN, with Rabb ranked No. 1, Newman ranked No. 3 and Stone ranked No. 4 among all players in the 2015 class.

“We’re definitely talking about that,” Rabb admitted. “Those are my best friends. For the last two years, we’ve been [close]. Even when we’re not with each other – because we’re all from different places – we could text, we could make phone calls, we could FaceTime and things like that. They’re just like my best friends back home; we talk a lot all of the time about not just basketball but anything.”

If all goes as planned, Rabb will play for a top college program and then go on to be a top pick in the NBA Draft. When asked what it would mean to hear NBA commissioner Adam Silver announce his name, he says it would be a dream come true.

“It would mean a lot; I never thought I’d be in this position,” Rabb said. “I’m going to stay humble and keep working on my game. I’m really excited about that, but I can’t let it get to my head because I’m not there yet and there’s a possibility that it won’t happen. But I’m really confident that it will and I’m just going to continue to improve.”

Rabb is certainly a player to keep an eye on in the coming years, and you’ll likely be hearing his name more and more very soon.

Curry Interested in Playing for Hometown Hornets?

LeBron James made headlines when he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason, explaining the decision by saying he wanted to return home.

Now, there has been speculation that other NBA stars may decide to sign with their hometown team. Some insiders have already started to wonder if Kevin Durant will seriously consider joining the Washington Wizards in 2016.

Now, Stephen Curry is the latest star to get people thinking about a homecoming.

The 26-year-old Golden State Warriors star was actually born in Akron, OH, like James, but he grew up in Charlotte, where his father Dell played for 10 seasons. Curry added fuel to the fire with these rumors, admitting that he would consider joining the Hornets when his contract expires.

“I’ve always had thoughts about playing at home, what it would be like,” Curry said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, according to the Bay Area News Group. “My dad played there for 10 years, and people around the Greater Charlotte area in North Carolina have done a lot for my family growing up, so you always think about it.

“Right now, I feel like I’ve got three years left on my deal, so this isn’t going to be an issue for me for a while. I love the Bay Area and where we are as a team trying to win a championship, and that’s what it’s all about. Of course everybody dreams about or thinks about what it’s going to be like to play at home. Obviously if that opportunity comes along it’s a different discussion.”

Curry touched on the possibility of a homecoming again during a Tuesday interview on The Dan Patrick Show. He admitted that he was surprised to see James return to Cleveland, but that he understood.

“I’m sure there’s no better feeling than going home,” Curry said.

As Curry pointed out, he has three years left on his contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2017.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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