An early look at CSUN men’s basketball unofficial recruiting class

Danny Escobar, Reporter

Expect the 2020 recruiting class to make an immediate impact for men’s basketball. This upcoming class looks to replenish CSUN’s lost offensive firepower. With an NCAA-high seven transfers and losing two-time Big West Player of the Year Lamine Diane to the NBA, the Matadors have lost their three top scorers who accounted for 72.4% of the team’s league-leading 76.1 points in the Big West.

Surprise transfers in Terrell Gomez and Elijah Harkless have opened up CSUN’s recruiting class from three members to five. CSUN nabbed two notable Southern California products in three-star recruit Amound Anderson and LA City Section Co-Player of the Year Fidelis Okereke. Additionally, three out of their five recruits were named to Cal-Hi All-State teams.

Let’s take a look at CSUN’s men’s basketball impressive recruiting class:

Amound Anderson – 6-foot-3 Guard, Leuzinger High School (Lawndale, Calif.)
Senior Year: 26.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.4 steals, FG 41%, 3 PT 34%
Accolades: Cal-Hi All-State First Team Division Three, McDonald All-American nominee, Daily Breeze All-Area Boys Basketball First-Team

A 6-foot-3 slender lefty, lead guard Anderson was a top 12 scorer in California High School Basketball. Anderson’s knock is putting up gaudy numbers on a losing team. In response, the interchangeable guard was the lone player with a losing record to receive all-state honors. Anderson is a high volume scorer, noted by his 50-point performance in a triple-overtime loss in which he joined Russell Westbrook to score 50 points at Leuzinger. He ranks as California’s 47th best player by 247Sports and is a three-star prospect. He has also shown the ability to lead his team to a fourth quarter comeback. Expect Anderson to push for more minutes in a crowded backcourt.

Atin Wright – 6-foot-1 Guard, Fairmont Preparatory Academy (Anaheim, Calif.)
Senior Year: 22.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.1 steals, FG 38%, 3 PT 30%
Accolades: Cal-Hi All-State First Team Division Two, McDonald All-American nominee, Southern Section Class 4A Player of the year

Wright fills in a notion of having multiple ball handlers on the court at the same time. Despite his lack of size, Wright’s ability to get to the rim and distribute is second to none. Wright plays bigger than his size indicates. The crafty guard won CIF Southern Section Player of the Year during his junior year with a record of 25 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game. After transferring from Lakewood, Wright led the Huskies to consecutive playoff appearances. A three-level scorer, Wright shows the ability to get a basket anywhere on the floor.

Kailen Rains – 6-foot-6 Guard, San Ysidro High School (San Diego, Calif.)
Senior Year: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals
Accolades: South Bay League First Team, All-San Diego Section Second Team, San Diego Union-Tribune All-Academic Team

Rains may be one of the better recruits down the road. Listed at 6-foot-6, he can play positions one through three. A four-year varsity player, Rains averaged 16.3 points in his career at San Ysidro. The San Diego native demonstrated maturity in his senior year. With the likes of freshman phenom Mikey Williams and Jurian Dixon, Rains set aside his ego and allowed the underclassmen to flourish in tandem. His selflessness is rare in today’s game, but by no means is Rains a pushover. If he can get over the defensive learning curve, anticipate Rains to make an immediate impact early on with CSUN’s lack of wings.

Fidelis Okereke – 6-foot-6 Forward, King/Drew Magnet High School (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Senior Year: 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5 blocks
Accolades: LA City Section Open Division Co-Player of the Year, Coliseum League Player of the Year, Cal-Hi All-State First Team Division Two

Introducing Festus Ndumanya 2.0. Okereke is relatively new to basketball. Despite playing organized ball for the first time three years ago, Okereke became an anchor on defense. He recorded five triple-doubles with blocks recorded as his third statistic. Okereke displays nimble footwork, soft hands and an imposing body. A raw basketball player, Okereke has NBA tools. His wingspan and discipline allow him to switch onto any defender. In his first year playing organized basketball, Okereke helped the Golden Eagles win the CIF Division II LA City Section championship.


Alex Merkviladze – 6’8 Forward Modesto Christian (Modesto, Calif.)

Division B U-18 European Championship: 10.8 points, 5.8 rebounds (senior year stats N/A)

Accolades: Modesto Boys Basketball All-District First Team, Tri-City Athletic League First Team 

A fundamentally sound forward, Alex doesn’t waste time getting to the basket. Merkviladze’s versatility is enticing. He has the ability to stretch the floor, post up and take it coast to coast. A big who can run the floor, Merkviladze created a lot of buzz at the Division B U-18 European Championship.


Editor’s Note May 27, 1:46 p.m.: A copy and paste error left out Alex Merkviladze. Story has been updated to include that information.