San Diego State has primarily recruited players from the west coast, most notably players from California. In recent years recruiting in California has become more competitive as PAC-12 schools have gotten stronger within the Golden State. As a school in a mid-major conference San Diego State has been in a bit of a disadvantage. They have had to adapt to this new recruiting landscape and have expanded their recruiting area.
While the staff does recruit out of state, they focus mostly on players on the west coast. Many teams have found success in Canada, as well as Australia or other places. With recruiting going global, finding new places to recruit has been important and the Aztecs staff has had to think outside the box. This year’s recruiting class holds four members and all four members of the 2018 class share a similar continent of descent, Africa.
San Diego State will bring in two players from Ghana, Joel Mensah and Nathan Mensah, and two from Nebraska of South Sudanese descent, Aguek Arop and Ed Chang. The Mensahs both played out here in the western part of the United States and are connected to San Diego through their AAU program Coastal Elite. Joel Mensah played at JSerra high school in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Nathan Mensah played at Findlay Prep in Henderson, NV. Both guys came to the United States from Ghana via the African Youth Basketball Organization (AYBO).
According to their website “the AYBO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Southern California, that specializes in the higher education of exceptional student athletes on the continent of Africa through the game of basketball. Our goal is to give these student athletes the opportunity to gain high school diplomas and college degrees as well as play the game of basketball at the highest levels. The AYBO is dedicated to placing student athletes in the top schools throughout the United States with the emphasis on higher education on, and especially off the court in the classroom. The AYBO is also dedicated to building the knowledge and popularity of the game of basketball through grassroots programs, camps, and clinics in Africa, with our base in Accra, Ghana.”
Unlike the Mensahs, Arop and Chang are from the Midwest. Both went to high school in Nebraska, however their paths diverged last year. Arop went to a prep school in Georgia, The-Skill-Factory, before visiting and committing to the Aztecs. Chang went west for his senior season, committing to Washington and moving in state. He was ruled ineligible and not allowed to compete for his senior season. He ended up decommitting from Washington and eventually became an Aztec.
Arop and Chang both are South Sudanese youth who grew up in Nebraska and were part of the Omaha Talons program, which serves the South Sudanese refugee and immigrant community in the Omaha area. According to their website the Talons “provide programs and support for at-risk youth by providing a positive and safe environment. Our programs are focused on education, healthy food access and nutrition, and utilize basketball as a vehicle to develop life, leadership and educational skills. Talons leadership provides mentorship, support and an opportunity for Omaha at-risk kids to stay off the streets and engage in positive behaviors. “
Building relationships is the name of the game when it comes to recruiting and the coaches have done a good job finding some new programs to tap into. Obviously fostering further good relationships with these programs and maximizing the talents of these four young men will be important moving forward. San Diego State has always dared to be different and do it their way. It is good to see the Aztecs expand their recruiting area. Hopefully this is just the beginning of two wonderful relationships.