Jared Kimbrough (above) committed to La Salle on Saturday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
After an official visit to George Mason last weekend, Jared Kimbrough was all but ready to commit to the Patriots.
Only an upcoming visit this weekend to La Salle, which had been the first school to offer him back in February, gave the Neptune (N.J.) senior big man cause to wait.
And by Friday afternoon, as he toured the Palestra with Explorers coach John Giannini, Kimbrough knew that his instinct to wait had paid off. When he sat down for breakfast Saturday morning with his family and the La Salle coaching staff, Kimbrough made it official, becoming the third member of the Explorers’ incoming 2018 class.
“When I got there, I felt the love that I was receiving from La Salle and I just decided today that I would be a good fit here,” he said. “As soon as I got here, I felt like it was home...I felt like they can be my new family for the next four years.”
La Salle offered Kimbrough back in February, before Neptune’s first-round state playoff game against Red Bank. Hometown school Monmouth followed soon after.
When Kimbrough got onto the AAU circuit with the Jersey Force this spring/summer, the offers really came pouring in: Iona, Stony Brook and Towson in April; Fordham, George Mason, Drexel, Delaware, Hofstra and more during a terrific July.
All along, La Salle stayed right at the forefront of his recruitment, with multiple assistants and the head coach keeping in touch.
“Coach [Sean] Neal, he would talk to me every day; coach [Horace] Owens, he was at every single game,” Kimbrough said. “Coach G was at some of the games and he will call me almost every week asking how I think I did and all that. They always constantly checked up on me.”
Kimbrough cut his list to three in mid-August: La Salle, George Mason and Monmouth. Monmouth got a commitment from a power forward shortly after, solidifying Kimbrough’s route to the Atlantic 10.
It’s a conference he’s been able to get somewhat familiar with as his recruitment progressed to that level. On his visit to La Salle, he learned more about a Philadelphia tradition he’ll play in the next four years as well.
“I’m excited to be part of the Big 5, it’s a great opportunity to play, and I get to play against other great schools,” he said. “Throughout the recruitment, I’ve learned about it...I was just like ‘wow, this is a great opportunity.’”
With two scholarships still projected to be open, all three of the Explorers’ commitments for next year are forwards.
The first to commit, Mainland Regional (N.J.)’s Osun Osunniyi -- currently doing a prep year at Putnam Science (Conn.), is a 6-10 center. St. Joe’s Prep’s Ed Croswell, a 6-7 power forward, committed just last week.
Kimbrough, at 6-7 and 205 pounds, is something of a mix of the two -- he’s got the long arms and athleticism of the lanky Osunniyi, with the ability to be an above-average shot blocker, but he’s a much more polished offensive player down low, similar to the muscular Croswell.
Though he’ll begin his college career as a ‘4’, Kimbrough said he’s working on making a move out to the perimeter, hoping to play the ‘3’ by his upperclassman years at La Salle.
“I’m a great back-to-the-basket guy but (Giannini is) going to work me and transform my game to be (an) outside guy, too,” he said. “[Neptune coach Joe] Fagan is also doing that right now and it’s a process, I just have to work on my ball-handling and my shooting.”
Kimbrough and the rest of his future classmates are all hoping to join a program coming off a strong year in what will be Giannini’s 14th at the school. Last year, the Explorers went 15-15 overall (9-9 A-10), but have a talented lineup led by five fifth-year seniors as they look to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since a Sweet 16 run in 2013.
When B.J. Johnson, Tony Washington, Amar Stukes and the rest exhaust their eligibility following this year, there will be plenty of minutes available. Kimbrough’s confident he’ll get his share.
“(The coaches) actually told me that I’m good enough to play now,” he said. “And whenever Coach G says something, I believe it.”