People seem to be pretty pumped up about the signing of Amanda Zahui B., 6-foot-5 Swedish post, to a scholarship offer by Pam Borton's Minnesota Gophers.
But when you see and hear all this optimism, pretty much everybody is quoting Pam Borton. "The signing of Amanda elevates our 2012 recruiting class from the a good one to a great one," Pam said. What's more, Zahui is "a presence in the paint" with the potential to be "dominant" and to make an "immediate impact." Of course, the likelihood is Pam has never seem Zahui play.
A year ago at about this time, it was Alexandra Ionescu whom the Gophers had signed and there was lots of speculation that she was an impact player. So I simply looked up her record and reported that she was coming off the bench and scoring 2-3 points per game for her Romanian team. Sure enough, she has not yet been an impact player for Minnesota.
So one has to ask. Is there any independent corroboration of the Amanda-Zahui-B.-as-savior storyline? MinnesotaHoops is determined to get to the bottom of the matter.
And, well, ah, umm, er, yeah, well, Amanda Zahui B. looks like the real deal!
First of all, there's the little matter of the photo that has been circulated with news of her signing. You can see it at GopherSports.com and also at http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/minn/sports/w-baskbl/auto_pdf/2011-12/misc_non_event/ZahuiBFactSheet.pdf. Take a look. She is a beast. Again, 6-foot-5 with a wide body reminiscent of Janelle McCarville or Zoe Harper. More of an Ashley Ellis-Milan, somebody said on one of the forums. But, hey, 6-foot-5, not very comparable, actually, to AEM's 6-2, on a closer look.
But more than that, she's been an impact player wherever she's gone. She made the big first impression in 2007 playing in the Euro 16U championship as a 13-year-old. Giving up 3 years to her opponents (and teammates) all she did was score 12 points per game with 12 rebounds. In her 1st year in 18U she averaged 16 points, 10 boards, 2 assists and 2 blocks.
Last year she upped that to 19 points and 12 boards.
Back in Sweden, she is a 9-time all-star and 2 time MVP. Her club team, Telge Basket, has won the last 2 league titles, and went undefeated in last year's playoffs.
In addition to Pam, Daniel Prince of Passion Hoops International, is also talking her up. "She is clearly the best player with size in the international 2012 graduating class....(She's) capable of playing physical down low, but with the mobility, agility and shooting touch to platy away from the basket.... She is a complete nightmare for opponents."
So I think, yes, she'll be an impact player even as a freshman. Whether she starts or not, she will play 20 minutes per game or more, perhaps 25. Katie Loberg and Micaella Riche will both be coming off the bench behind her. One of them, probably Loberg, will have to learn the big forward slot real quick and will become the #1 reserve behind Kionna Kellogg at that position.
Given that the Gophers were not bad at the position--with Loberg and Riche, or Riche and Loberg--Zahui will only be a modest upgrade. But she should be more of a go-to player near crunch time, and should also help the defense get a few extra stops.
All in all, a great signing.