ROXBURY, Mass. -– Jared Terrell and Abdul-Malik Abu reached across each other at the Reggie Lewis Center on Saturday to pick the hat of the school they would be committing to. As they each picked up their respective hat, a short-lived look of confusion spread through the room.
Abu picked up an Oklahoma State hat from Terrell’s side of the table, while Terrell picked up a North Carolina State hat from Abu’s side. To much amusement for the 200 or so supporters in attendance, the two quickly exchanged their hats back and announced their official college plans: Abu to N.C. State and Terrell to Oklahoma State.
The duo had planned the prank in advance to lighten the mood in the room.
“We only get to do this once so we wanted to have some fun with it," Abu said. "unless we get into the green room some day, that’s our dream."
The Kimball Union Academy (N.H.) power forward chose North Carolina State over Florida, Providence, and Connecticut. The Huskies were considered by most to be the outliers of the group, while Florida and Providence were both legitimate options for Abu, as he visited Billy Donovan and staff in Gainesville this past week. Providence coach Ed Cooley has been recruiting Abu and Terrell since he was hired in March 2011.
In the end though, the Wolfpack won out for Abu, the No. 44 player in the 2014 ESPN 100. Naturally though, he had one last prank to play.
“I first told NC State I was going in another direction and they were like ‘oh my gosh,’ and then I was like ‘nah I’m kidding, I’m coming,’” he said with a laugh. “They were happy, that makes me feel good that they really wanted me that bad.”
Expressions coach Ty Boswell, who has been integral in the development of the dynamic duo, said that Terell’s decision came down to the Cowboys and Rhode Island -- who made quite a push for Terrell, a Brewster Academy (N.H.) guard who is No. 76 player in the ESPN 100, behind new head coach Danny Hurley.
“He had a great visit, Dan Hurley does a terrific job. But with him it was a sense of he wanted to play at the highest level and ‘hey, at least I tried,” Boswell said.
Terrell added, on his visit to Oklahoma State: “They players were really nice, I got along with the coaches really well. It’s a higher level of basketball, and that’s where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to sell myself short of anything.”
Current Oklahoma State stars Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash are both expected picks in next year’s NBA draft, with most scouts pegging Smart as a top-five pick. That being said, Terrell will have an opportunity to go to Oklahoma State and get minutes right away. Having not seen the campus until recently, he was impressed by what the Cowboys had to offer.
“I didn’t even think about Oklahoma State before I went out there, cause when you think of Oklahoma you just think about farmland, it being real flat, and that there’s just nothing out there," Terrell said. "But when I went out there they just blew me away, it’s an amazing place."
Close friends on an off the court, they joked about the potential of one day playing against each other on a college court.
“I would foul him and then just look at him,” Abu said with a laugh.
He continued, on a more serious note, “He was there when I was nothing and I was there when he was nothing…it means the world to make my decision alongside my brother.”
Boswell has seen the development of Abu and Terrell up close, and expressed how proud he was of his two star players following the press conference.
“I’m just happy that it’s over," he said. "It’s a long grueling process, and it’s a lot. They felt like they picked the best situation that was for them... But I’m happy for them, they’re the two highest character, two best kids I’ve met.”