The high school coach of 2015 power forward Ivan Rabb said his player was still “excited” two days after a receiving a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky.
“I think any time any kid is offered by Kentucky, it’s a stamp of approval,” Bishop O’Dowd Coach Lou Richie told the Herald-Leader on Sunday. “It lets him know that his hard work is paying off and that he’s on the right course. Ivan is a very humble young man who’s excited by every offer, but a Kentucky offer is a little bit different.”
Rabb got the call from John Calipari on Friday night telling him that he had an offer from the Wildcats. Richie said he talked to UK assistant Orlando Antigua on Sunday, and he’s expecting Calipari and Antigua to visit the California high school Wednesday or Thursday.
Bishop O’Dowd has hosted several coaches over the past couple of weeks. Richie mentioned UCLA, Arizona, California and San Diego State as some of the West Coast schools that have dropped in recently. Louisville sent assistant coach Wyking Jones to see Rabb last Monday. In addition to UK, Richie is expecting visits this week from North Carolina and Georgetown.
The attention is warranted.
ESPN ranks Rabb as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2015. The 6-foot-9 power forward is also considered a top-10 prospect by Rivals.com (3rd), Scout.com (4th) and 247Sports (6th).
He helped lead the Team USA under-16 squad to a gold medal in June, averaging 12.0 points and a team-high 9.8 rebounds per game while making 62 percent of his field goal attempts.
“Ivan is a very competitive young man,” Richie said. “He’s very tough and he prides himself on working harder than anybody else. He’s a very multi-dimensional player. He can play in the post as well as step out and shoot, handle the ball and pass. And he prides himself on his defense.”
Off the court, Richie described Rabb as a “fun-loving kid” with a 3.3 grade-point average and strong family support.
“He is a joy to coach,” he said. “He makes coaching very easy. Him and his family make coaching very easy. … He’s an incredible young man.”
Rabb has had plenty of folks to help show him the way.
He plays his summer ball with the Oakland Soldiers, the same program that has produced McDonald’s All-Americans Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon and was led this year by top UK target Stanley Johnson.
Ashley — entering his sophomore season at Arizona — also played for Bishop O’Dowd before transferring to Findlay Prep (Nev.) for his senior year of high school.
Richie has helped coach the Soldiers in the past and spoke of the importance of Rabb being able to learn from the talented players who came before him.
“It’s invaluable,” he said. “To be around a Brandon or an Aaron — that just gives Ivan the confidence to be that caliber of a player. To think that he could be that good or to strive and challenge himself to be better.
“(They’re) just incredible people and incredible families. They’re just really, really good people for Ivan to be around. … They’ve been great mentors to Ivan — pushing him and encouraging him. That’s all you can ask for.”
As hyped as those players were early in their careers, none were considered to be the No. 1 overall player in his class.
Richie said he and others spoke to Rabb early in his high school career about the attention that was going to come his way.
His advice — in a nutshell — was to stay humble.
“Look how people treat you, and make sure you treat everyone the same,” Richie said he told his player. “You look everyone in the eye, you shake every hand, you introduce yourself, you introduce your family. But when it comes to the ranking, that’s one person’s opinion. That’s one person’s opinion who runs a website. Not to belittle it, but to understand it.
“We told him not to get caught up in the hype. Just keep getting better. As a person, as a student, emotionally, athletically. Just keep getting better. … And he’s done a great job of doing that.”