ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 6-foot-10 senior also looking at Arizona, Maryland, UConn, others
Alex Kirk, one of the most highly-recruited high school basketball players to come out of the state in years, is scheduled to make an official recruiting visit with the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team this weekend.
The 6-foot-10 Los Alamos senior is one of the country’s top-rated big men. He has had offers from big-name schools across the nation, but recently trimmed his list to a group of schools that includes UNM, according to his father Alan Kirk.
“I don’t know if it’s close to a final five yet,” says Alan, who is also the head coach at Los Alamos High. “But he’s concentrating on the schools that are the most interested in him. I’d says that’s Oregon State, Arizona State, Arizona, UNM, West Virginia, UConn, Maryland, SMU, Minnesota, Texas and Arkansas.”
Marty Saiz, Alex Kirk’s former AAU coach, says he remains in close contact with the Kirks and that he thinks New Mexico is high on the list.
“He and his father have really taken a close look at everything in the recruiting process,” Saiz said. “I talk to them every week, and they feel pretty good about their final list. But there’s a chance Alex might just make this one official visit.”
Saiz said that Kirk made an unofficial visit to Arizona last month.
Kirk played for Saiz’s AAU program (then the Southwest Titans which has changed its name to the Danny Granger Hurricanes) last year and during one tournament this summer. Kirk then played for the elite Houston Hoops team the rest of the summer, and made even more of a national name for himself.
Alan Kirk, who handles all media inquires about his son’s recruitment, told the Journal that Alex plans to make an official recruiting trip to Arizona in October. He said his son’s hope is to commit early and sign a national letter of intent in November.
“That’s the goal, but I don’t know if he’ll make it,” said Alan, a graduate of Eastern New Mexico. “I’d like to see it over before the season begins, and not have to worry about it during the basketball season. But I don’t know.”
Alex averaged nearly 28 points, 15 rebounds, seven blocks and three assists a game for Los Alamos last year. Alan says Alex is about 6-10¼ — “6-11 with shoes.”
He said Alex has “put on a little weight this summer” and is about 225 pounds.
Kirk will need to beef up even more before starting his Division-I career, but various Web sites list him as one of the country’s top 10 post players.
While not extremely athletic, Kirk is a great shooter for a big man and can knock down the 3-pointer. He is also very smooth around the basket, a strong rebounder and shot blocker and plays with a great amount of intensity and hustle.
“He will flourish in a motion offense like UNM’s,” Saiz said. “I think he’s very underrated in terms of his passing; he’s a great passer. He can grab the rebound and make quick outlets to halfcourt better than most big men.
“Because of his shooting, I think he will be a 4-man (power forward) in college. He just needs to get stronger, but I think he has the tools to make an impact in his first year.”
Saiz says Kirk’s stock has risen this summer after a string of strong showings at summer AAU camps.
“Alex has probably done more (as far as playing at national AAU tournaments) than anyone in the history of New Mexico,” Saiz says. “He played in the LeBron James Camp— for the top 80 players in the country — in the NBA Players Association Camp and the All-American Camp. He played in at least four of the most major camps in the country, and has had a great summer.”
Alan Kirk says there is no one thing that will be the key factor in Alex’s eventual decision.
“I cant really come up with one thing,” Alan says. “He wants a school that supports basketball, has a strong coaching staff, where he has an opportunity to play right away. He’s trying to look at academics, a good school where he’s comfortable.”