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Posted On: 01/29/18 11:11 AM
Grand View Christian came out of the holiday break as the No. 1 ranked team in 1A, and they also came out of it with a substantial new addition.
Issa Samake, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7’4.5 wingspan, transferred to Grand View Christian for his junior year, and became eligible to play at the semester. He had previously been at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Tennessee.
He played high-level grassroots ball the last two offseasons and gained some national exposure, picking up offers from Iowa State and Tulsa along the way.
The Mali (West Africa)-born prospect has been in the United States for three years. He came to Tennessee midway through his freshman season. And says his host family is originally from Iowa, and they moved back to the Hawkeye State last year. Samake came with them.
“My host family that I live with, they switched and moved back to Iowa, they’re from here and they moved here and I decided to move here with them,” said Samake. “And I thought the best school that fit me was Grand View, so that’s why I chose them.”
Samake first picked up the Iowa State offer, then Tulsa offered last summer. But recruitment and college is far from his priority list right now.
“I’ve never been there (Iowa State), so I don’t really know anything about college here,” said Samake.
“That’s all good stuff, but I’m open and I’m not really focused on that stuff. I know I have one more year, and I’m not rushing anything. I’m not focused on any college right now.”
Samake says he started playing basketball a little bit when he was in Mali, but his skills really took off when he got to the United States just over two years ago.
“I can say I block shots and my job is to get rebounds, run the floor, and that’s what I think I do best to help my team win. And I can shoot it a little, too,” he said.
“I couldn’t shoot before, but now I think I’m a better shooter, and I want to get better at shooting 3s. So, I’ll keep working on that, I’m not where I want to be with that.”
Grand View Christian is currently 15-0, they were 11-0 before Samake became eligible. The Mali prodigy is easing his way into the rotation, averaging 10.5 points on 53 percent shooting (36 percent from deep), 4.3 blocks and 8.3 rebounds per game.
“I try to play big-man and I need to rebound and do the best I can to help my team win,” said Samake. “We want to win state again this year.”
The big question is who will the high-major prospect play with this spring and summer for grassroots ball. Samake played EYBL with Mississippi Express last summer, two years ago he played with adidas program Dream Vision.
He says he doesn’t know for sure yet who he’ll play with this summer. Will it be an Iowa program? We’ll see.