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No. 3-ranked Hoopster in U.S. Eyeing FIU

Rakeem Although, you good people know my sentiments on recruiting and all the attention given to [insert name here of superstar high school player] thinking about 35 different schools before making a decision, the following is unprecedented territory for FIU basketball.

Rakeem Christmas, the No. 3 player in the nation for 2011, has whittled down his choices of college basketball programs to 5 and your Panthers are among the choices.

Granted, X-mas is still another whole year away from becoming a college hoopster, FIU has never been thisclose to landing this type of player -- except maybe in baseball where the No. 4 player in the nation -- Manny Machado is expected to sign with FIU this year, but might never field a ground ball for Turtle, because of the Major League Draft. Still, quite an accomplishment for both Isiah and Turtle.

Here is the latest story by Evan Daniels of scout.com about FIU's possible Christmas gift:

After listening to pitches from a number of college programs, Rakeem Christmas has sliced his list to five schools.

In early August, Rakeem Christmas, of Bryn Athyn (Pa.) Academy of New Church, cut his list of schools to eight. Now the No. 3 prospect in the 2011 class has narrowed his list further.

“Since our last announcement, certain schools have made a valiant effort regarding Rakeem’s recruitment. Stronger bonds have been established with a few programs and their staff. Our current list reflects that.” Amira Hamid, Christmas' aunt and legal guardian, said.

“Once we know it’s right for Rakeem and once he feels 100% confident about the situation, everyone else will know. This process has been lengthy but we are in no rush to meet a timeline. We’re pleased with the current schools we are considering and looking forward to watching them play this season.”

Christmas’ new list consists four schools – Florida, Georgetown, Oklahoma and Texas --- that were among his list of eight that he released in August. He’s also added a new school – Florida International – to the mix.

“I’m happy to work with a smaller group of schools going into the season,” Christmas said. “I’ve been so busy with maintaining my grades and practicing with the team, that I think this will help me focus with having to deal with less pressure during the season.

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound post prospect hasn’t visited any of the five schools on his list. According to Hamid, they’ll likely look to take some trips following his junior season.

We might do something, but definitely not before the school year is over,” she told Scout.com.

After a big showing on the AAU circuit during the spring and summer with Team Final, Christmas opted to make a change and switched from Northeast Catholic to Academy of New Church. Thus far it’s been a smooth change.

“My transition at ANC has been great. I’m enjoying my classmates, teachers, and teammates,” Christmas added. “Coach Givens has been great with the workouts. I’m just ready for the season to start.”

The Academy of the New Church opens their season on December 4th against Atlantic Christian


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