Posted On: 01/11/19 9:31 AM
Every winter schools rush to fill their upcoming recruiting class, and one of the biggest things that people will always need is size in the paint. There’s a number of big men who are still available in the state of Virginia, but with his mix of athleticism, skill set and great academics, Miller School power forward Tariq Balogun is one of the premiere available big men in the commonwealth.
After starting and playing a big role on their state championship team last year, Balogun is seeing even more minutes and his production continues to increase this season throughout the year. The Mavericks lost their two leading scorers from last year in Aundre Hyatt (LSU) and DeShaun Wade (ECU), and now they have a much more balanced attack. The Mavericks are out to another fast start, sitting at 13-1 with their only loss coming to Pennsylvania power Westtown in the season opener. Balgoun has been a big part of their success, averaging 12.5 points and 7 rebounds per game while shooting 60% from the field and 70% from the line.
“I think I’m playing really well,” Balogun said. “Since the first game, even though we lost, we’ve still been playing good basketball. I think we’re getting better every game and as long as we’re able to keep the leads we get and keep the pace up we’ll be fine.”
While they are much different than they were last year, Miller’s fast start shows that they’re still one of the most talented teams in the state, and they are without sophomore stud scoring guard Quadir Pettaway who will return to the team after an injury this month. Balogun thinks it speaks to the culture that Head Coach Danny Manuel has built and that this team has bought in all the way as well.
“I think we still have the same kind of ethics, we play hard and with intensity all the time,” he said. “Last year we had a couple of good players, like nationally ranked players, but this year we’re still a good team regardless. We added some new players as well, everyone knows their roll and everyone is gelling nicely.”
So far, Balogun holds a slew of mid major offers from ODU, Hampton, Norfolk State, North Texas and Stony Brook. He says that he’s received recent interest from Arkansas, New Mexico State and La Salle, among others. He hasn’t taken or planned any visits yet but he plans on focusing on the recruitment aspect after the high school season and making a decision in the spring.
As far as what he’s looking for and what he can bring to the table, Balogun just wants to go somewhere to play his game and continue to develop on and off the court.
“I want to go somewhere that I can play, somewhere that I can develop as a player and someone who’s going to put me in the best position to play beyond the next level. I can bring energy, hustle, hard work, dedication and a good skill set outside and on the block where I can mix it up a bit.”
A good player and even better kid, Balogun has the tools to be a spot big man at the division one level as a freshman, but it’s his upside that is intriguing. He could very well be a guy who blossoms into a better college than high school player, and could be a steal for whatever schools believe in him and are able to offer him an opportunity at the next level.