Antwi's flying high again

JASON PAUL -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

All signs pointed to Antwi Atuahene being one of the next great NCAA players to come out of the Toronto high school basketball system. In his senior year at Father Henry Carr in 2003, the 6-foot-4 Atuahene won The Toronto Sun's Mr. Basketball Ontario award and had a scholarship lined up at Rutgers University.

But the NCAA clearinghouse didn't accept a few of his courses, which made him ineligible to attend Rutgers.

That forced Atuahene to explore the U.S. junior college route, only to have disaster strike at his first two options. He left the first one -- Schoolcraft College in Michigan -- because of poor living conditions; and the second -- Indian Hills Community College in Iowa -- because they wanted him to play immediately despite a groin injury.

He wound up at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Tex., and redshirted his freshman season to recuperate.

But after a year of setbacks, Atuahene has re-established himself as a major NCAA prospect with some of the biggest programs in the U.S.

"At this point, Antwi is as good as any player to come out of Canada," said his Grass Roots Canada club coach Ro Russell, who has helped Atuahene stay on track after leaving Carr.

LONG LIST

There's already a long list of offers on the table -- Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Texas, Kansas, USC, Clemson and St. John's -- but undefeated Illinois is at the top of the list.

Russell says Atuahene, 20, will wind up at the top-ranked school if either of the Fighting Illini's star guards, Deron Williams or Dee Brown, leave early to enter the NBA draft.

"They've been following him for quite a while and they're very serious about him," Russell said.

For whatever reason, Atuahene has had his share of doubters in Toronto and has even changed his uniform from No. 1 to No. 00 for symbolic reasons.

"I wanted that number because sometimes I've felt like nothing and I have to work hard to make something of myself.

"There have been some hard times, but the people around me like my family and coach Ro have kept me grounded," said Atuahene, who has a 2.8 GPA. "I'm making sure I focus on school and the rest will take care of itself."

Atuahene, who is averaging 18 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds a game at TVCC, is regarded as one of the top junior college point guards in the U.S. by scouting services.

"Antwi is so active and has great court sense," Russell said. "He makes things happen at the highest level."


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