Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Sultan Adewale was playing with grown men in England 19 months ago.
He said they would not compare to the Camden High squad he and his Neumann-Goretti teammates battled this past Sunday at Philly Live I.
“Competition-wise it’s different,” Adewale said. “Teams of a level like Camden, you’ll never find that in England or the UK. Guys 17, 16, 15 years old would easily destroy grown men over there. The talent level, the skill gap is so much.”
Sultan Adewale (above) made it to Neumann-Goretti a year later than intended. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
At first that gap was a shock for Adewale, who came to play in the U.S. in October 2020. Now, he embraces those types of matches. That’s why he came here.
Adewale, an East London native, didn’t take long to adjust to the U.S. basketball scene and continues to get more and more comfortable. College coaches are continuing to notice.
The 6-foot-8 2023 power forward, who only started playing basketball about four years ago, earned an offer from Arizona State at the start of the live period last week — his 11th total — and announced another from Evansville on Wednesday. Adewale said Clemson, Purdue and Iowa were other new schools who recently reached out.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh wow, oh my gosh.’ That surprised me,” Adewale said of the talent level in the U.S. “But now I know to expect it. It’s kind of all the same thing.”
Adewale played for St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Academy on the Grind Session — a winter circuit of elite high school basketball events — during his first high school basketball season. He received his first college offer by last May from New Orleans and and earned offers from Oral Roberts and Memphis last June.
The list expanded to DePaul, Ole Miss and Washington by the end of last summer despite an injury limiting how much he could play. He added offers from Rugers, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State through the fall.
“This recruiting stuff is new for me because I came from England,” Adewale said. “I didn’t know much about recruiting. It just kind of took off as soon as I came here.”
Adewale’s interest in coming to play in the U.S. was piqued two years ago when he watched Neumann-Goretti’s 2020 Catholic League championship win over Roman Catholic. The pandemic kept him from playing for the Saints in 2020-21 but he arrived at N-G last offseason, ready to play his junior year in the PCL.
Adewale (left) held his own on the glass against a talented Camden frontcourt last weekend. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
In his first season at Neumann-Goretti in 2021-22, Adewale averaged 11.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, while shooting 58 percent from the field for a Saints team that won the Philadelphia Catholic League and PIAA Class 4A titles. He was named a first team all-state selection.
Adewale added an offer from West Virginia in April before receiving the offer from Arizona State last week.
He’s happy to be going through the process with several of his high school teammates, including the rising junior class of Khaafiq Myers, Robert Wright III and Amir WIlliams.
“That’s amazing because we all root for each other,” Adewale said. “We’re all happy for each other. A bunch of Division I players all on one team. We just go at it, love each other.”
Adewale had a chance to showcase himself in the matchup of the weekend at Jefferson University on Sunday at Philly LIve I. The Saints took on a loaded Camden squad and Adewale had his hands full with a Panthers frontcourt that included 2023s Aaron Bradshaw (7-1) and DaSear Haskins (6-8).
Adewale settled for four points in the Saints’ loss as N-G’s backcourt of Wright, Myers and WIlliams did most of the offensive damage. He found other ways to contribute, scrapping for 10 rebounds (four offensive) and adding a block.
“It was certainly good,” Adewale said of the matchup with Bradshaw, who is among the top high school centers in the country. “I just had to keep him off the glass, keep him from dunking, just make his life real tough. Not make him feel good out there. He had a few dunks in the first half, and I had to shut that down in the second half. I feel like I did a way better job in the second half.”
Adewale headed back to England after Philly Live I on Sunday night. The East London native said it was the second time he was able to return to England since first arriving in the United States.
“It should be fun,” Adewale said.
Adewale will miss the second Philly Live period this upcoming weekend, but he will return in July to play with Rio University on the Under Armour circuit.
He has plenty more parts of his game he would like to show college coaches.
“I have a little more freedom on my summer team, so I shoot the ball. I’m willing to shoot the ball, so it’s fun,” Adewale said. “That’s what coaches like to see at my size, so I’m going to keep showing them that.”
“I just want to be more comfortable on the perimeter, handling the ball … work on straight line drives, using my left hand and shooting the ball more and my perimeter defense, just being down on two feet and playing defense.”
Adewale is still relatively new to basketball. A Manchester United fan, he grew up playing what he calls football (soccer) — though at his size he could be mistaken for an American football player as well.
A coach from secondary school suggested he play basketball about four years ago, and now he has realistic hopes of playing the sport at the highest stage.
“He was like I can call a coach for you and you can start taking basketball seriously and I was like, ‘Alright, let me try it,’” Adewale said. “Here we are today, I moved to America and it’s been a great move.”