7-foot freshman could be top hoops recruit … as long as he doesn’t decide to be a competitive swimmer first

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Raekwon Long is considered one of the nation’s most promising freshmen basketball prospects. There’s a good reason for that: He’s very, very tall.

Garinger center Raekwon Long is among the top prospects in the Class of 2016 — Charlotte Observer
Garinger center Raekwon Long is among the top prospects in the Class of 2016 — Charlotte Observer

Long, who plays for Charlotte (N.C.) Garinger High, stands 7-foot tall and weighs in at 250 pounds. He’s an impressive athlete for his size, too, and made a major impact during his first season at Garinger, averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks per game. And those came against much of North Carolina’s top competition.

Still, there’s one potential roadblock in the way to a major college scholarship for Long: The swimming pool.

Long, who could emerge as the top big man recruit in the Class of 2106, really wants to be a competitive swimmer. According to MaxPreps, it’s what he loves to do, and he is desperate to compete on the Garinger swim team at weekend meets in the future.

“The problem is, swimming is at the same time as basketball,” Garinger boys basketball coach Joshua Coley told MaxPreps. “We've talked about letting him compete on the weekends. The meets are usually on Saturdays, but I'm not too sure about that yet.

"He's very proud about being a swimmer. You can tell him that he can't dunk, but if you tell him he can't swim you've got an argument on your hands."

Perhaps Coley just needs to put in a call to Tim Duncan. The Spurs star and surefire future NBA Hall of Famer was a competitive swimming in the Virgin Islands before he was handed a basketball for the first time.

With Duncan, as soon as he got on the court, the rest was history. That’s what many are hoping will happen with Long as well, particularly now that he has one impressive season under his belt.

As it is, Long has made great strides on the court in a very short time, as profiled here by the Charlotte Observer.

The center has also already taken unofficial recruiting visits to major programs like North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky, though it’s clear that he isn’t completely wrapped up in the recruiting process yet.

"He's super humble and I think people forget that he is a ninth grader," Coley said. "We were driving down to Wake Forest and explaining to him about the recruiting process and telling him that when he releases his top five things will start to get crazy. He pulls me aside afterward and says, 'Coach, what's a top five?'"

Hey, who has time for a top-5 when the pool is calling?

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