Rahamanh Katumbusi angled toward the rim in moving between two defenders for a crucial putback that helped his South team hold off the North in the Kiwane Garris Future SuperStars All-Star game last Saturday.
Everything was in the moment for Katumbusi, the 6-2 Kenwood guard. In the final game played on his home court, he scored 16 of his game-high 25 points in the second half in earning the most valuable player recognition. It also symbolized a change and a hard shift from the familiar to the somewhat uncertain.
The moment also signified very specific endings and new beginnings.
Only seven of the 33 players who participated in the two games have signed with college programs. For players like Katumbusi, the game provided a chance to give back to his school and community.
It also helped him focus on the task at hand, figuring out the next stage of his playing life. The guard is a strong student with excellent grades, so he has more options than most. Delaying his decision is certainly a gamble on end as the vast majority of programs have closed their recruiting for the Class of 2015.
College basketball is nothing if not volatile, he pointed out. In Illinois alone, DePaul, UIC and Bradley have just named new coaches.
“There are transfers and coaching changes, so I see it as an advantage for me to wait longer to see your choices and see what is out there for you,” Katumbusi said.
That uncertainty is reflected throughout the country. At the McDonald’s All-American game, eight players, or one third of those selected to the game, were undecided on their college choice.
“Those are the best players in the country and they’re still don’t know where they’re going,” he said. “That makes me feel better about my situation.”
Marlo Finner took over the Kenwood program and Katumbusi flourished in the team’s uptempo style as he lead it in scoring, carrying the Broncos to an undefeated Red-Central title (10-0) and a 19-win season that ended with a Class 4A sectional semifinal loss against St. Ignatius.
“I wasn’t happy at all in the way our season ended and now I’m using that as motivation,” he said.
Programs such as New Hampshire, Hampton, Metro State and Lake Forest have each expressed interest of late. The timing means fewer scholarships are available. Still, Katumbusi said he is able to be more selective and determine his best fit.
Katumbusi is using the Public League’s spring break to begin a series of official and unofficial school visits he plans to conclude by early June before making his final decision.
“I’m looking forward to seeing those schools in person, rather than just making contact with coaches through phone calls and texts,” he said.
Recruiting is another form of auditioning, he said. The process is grueling but very worthwhile. Katumbusi has a runner’s background, having also competed in cross country and track to maintain his conditioning. He is ready to prove his value.
“At this time of year, it’s all about playing harder and training harder,” he said.
“Once you go down for these visits, coaches ask ask to see you or watch you play in open gyms and that’s the chance to go out there and really showcase my skills.”