It was two years ago at the Nike EYBL in Hampton, Virginia that Ivan Rabb received his first college offer from Sean Miller. At the time, Rabb was still an emerging gem in the Oakland Soldiers program, not yet a member of the U17 team.
By last spring, Rabb had made a name for himself as one of the top big men in his class but still played under the shadow of teammate Stanley Johnson.
Now, the spotlight is all on Rabb as he enters the summer season atop recruiting ranking boards and is being pursued by a number of elite programs. Point Guard U caught up with the Bay Area power forward in Virginia, where he and the Soldiers pulled a couple dominating wins.
Rabb and teammate Stephen Zimmerman, both Arizona targets, form a fearsome front-court duo that forces opponents to divide attention between the two instead of heavily guarding just one of them.
“It’s been tough so far because we haven’t practiced together,” Rabb said. “When the team starts playing together, me and Zimm’s chemistry is going to get a lot better.”
Even so, they were in sync over the weekend.
Rabb says he molds his play off of NBA players of all positions and it shows in his game. Rabb owns the paint but can also move up and down the floor with great mobility for someone his size.
Recently, Rabb has added a lot of muscle, although he admits it leaves him “a little unbalanced” sometimes, as the weight must be distributed through his narrow 6’9 frame. His strength is most evident when he’s situated on the low block, where he forces his way past smaller defenders en route to the hoop.
Rabb still needs some work on his post moves and doesn’t yet have a consistent jumper but once he gets those down, his potential is enormous.
A student of the game, Rabb takes bits and pieces from Andre Drummond, Zach Randolph, Chris Bosh, and his favorite player growing up, Kevin Garnett. Rabb even watches Hall of Fame center Kevin Sampson off of a tape his mom bought him for Christmas one year.
As for college hoops, Rabb said he’s not quite so familiar. “Honestly, I never was the type of guy who could sit through a whole college basketball game as a young kid,” he said. “I’m trying to get into it more.”
Considering he’s being chased after by many of the sport’s top programs, that’s probably a good idea.
Rabb is planning on taking a number of unofficial visits, including ones to Georgetown and North Carolina this week since it’s one of the few times he’ll be on the east coast. When he gets back to California, he wants to see in-state schools such as Cal, UCLA, and USC.
He is also hearing plenty from the Arizona staff, who “text me all the time,” he said. “I’m thinking of going up to the school on an unofficial for the Red and Blue game.”
When Rabb visits Tucson, there’s no question who he’ll be touring around with.
“Stanley is like a big brother to me,” Rabb said. “He’s not trying to persuade me, he wants me to make the right choice, but he definitely wants to see me in that uniform.”
Rabb is well aware of the number of Oakland Soldiers who have taken their talents to McKale but insists that it won’t weigh into his decision.
“It’s not going to affect me because I’m a different man. I didn’t really play with Aaron or Nick Johnson or those guys. At the end of the day it’s my choice.”