Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Central African guard considered big catch for XU

Guessagba-Sato at Dayton Christian

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Romain Guessagba-Sato is a native of the Central African Republic. He has not played a high school basketball game in the United States. Yet he is considered one of the top two seniors in Ohio and a prime recruiting catch for Xavier.

        The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Dayton Christian High School said Tuesday that he has verbally committed to attend Xavier next fall.

        The Musketeers beat out several schools, most notably Ohio State. Guessagba-Sato said he picked Xavier because of the academic support and smaller campus.

        Guessagba-Sato speaks six languages; his primary lan guage is French, and he is working to improve his English. An organization called Friends of Africa helped place him at Dayton Christian, which has an extensive foreign-exchange program. He lives with Tom and Tiffany Thompson, his host family and legal guardians, and has spoken to his mother in Africa only once since moving to Dayton in January.

        Once at his new school, Guessagba-Sato, who has been playing basketball only four years and was not eligible to compete last season, approached coach Dave Jackson about practicing with his team.

        “The first night he was there he put on such a show,” Jackson said. “He just shocked me with his ability.

        “I've been coaching high school basketball 20 years, and he is without a doubt the most exciting high school player I've ever been involved with. He's just an incredible raw talent.”

        Jackson said the player can dunk, shoot from the outside and has a 37-inch vertical leap and “a lion's heart as far as playing defense.”

        Jackson said Xavier was one of the first schools to contact Guessagba-Sato after assistant coach Jeff Battle saw him in May at an AAU tourna ment in Columbus.

        Any college that had not heard of Guessagba-Sato discovered him at the adidas Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas in July. Jackson said Guessagba-Sato scored 39, 37 and 37 points in three of his games.

        “He was tremendous,” said Van Coleman of FutureStars recruiting service. “I had somebody come and tell me, "You've got to see this kid.' I went over and watched him twice ... He made a believer out of me and a whole lot of other people who were watching him. He jumped up two levels with his play out there to a high-major prospect.”

        Coleman said Guessagba-Sato is a top-100 player, adding, “He's one of those guys that will only get better in college, and his athleticism will take him to some very high levels.”

        Chris Johnson, who scouts Ohio for several recruiting services, compares Guessagba-Sato with Xavier sophomore Lloyd Price. He said Guessagba-Sato and Julius Johnson of Garfield Heights are the top seniors in the state.

        “He's not quite the ballhandler that Lloyd is, but very similar,” Johnson said. “He really understands the game, which kind of surprised me. He's a very accurate shooter, too. You get that combination of being able to hit from the outside with his athleticism and leaping ability — that's quite a package.”

        Guessagba-Sato has not taken an official visit to Xavier but was on campus three times since last spring, Jackson said. Musketeers coach Skip Prosser had his home visit with the player Friday.

        Guessagba-Sato said he called Prosser on Monday night with his decision.

        “He said, "Congratulations and welcome to your new family,'” Guessagba-Sato said. “He was very happy. I'm happy, too.”

        The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining and will focus on signing a power forward or center.

        Jackson said Guessagba-Sato still must qualify academically. Because English is not his native language, Dayton Christian is trying to get permission for him to take the ACT and SAT untimed and with a French-English dictionary by his side.

        Also, Jackson said, the NCAA Clearinghouse will have to determine what credits transfer from Guessagba-Sato's high school transcripts from Africa.


Xavier Stories
- Central African guard considered big catch for XU

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