Newark, NJ St. Benedict power forward with three stars Ship Dembele signed with Iowa on the last day of the signing period. The 6ft 8in and 230lb senior chose the Hawkeyes over Wake Forest, Rutgers and DePaul.

“I’m signing with the University of Iowa,” Demebele said. “Basically, when I first started watching college basketball before coming here from Spain, I always dreamed of playing college basketball. I’ve always wanted to go to a school where they’re going to use their big ones. I didn’t want to be used just to set the screen and skate, but to be used in the system and push the ball sometimes.”

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“That was one game I watched in Iowa with Keegan Murray it stood out. He’s about 6’9″ tall and could push the ball off the bounce and I saw that as the type of school I’d like to go to. When they started recruiting me, I realized that it suits me and I can focus on basketball.”

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Although Iowa was one of the last schools Dembele recruited from, his official visit in late October helped cement his relationship with the staff.

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“Being there was great, I had a strong relationship with Coach McCaffery even before he came to train with me,” he said. “He was the head coach who hired me, showed me around the campus and took me to the football game.”

“While I was there, we watched a movie about Keegan Murray as well as Luke Gartz and I see myself as one of those players. Now they have Keegan’s brother Chris, who plays the same role as me. I see myself doing more than just setting up screens, but playing a bit outside and defending a few positions.”

Dembele is now the fourth player in his senior class and has a goal of making it to the final four.

“My goal is to get into the league and the Final Four,” he said. “I want to win. I am a dog and I will do everything to help us get to this point.”

Dembele’s 17U assistant coach at the New York Renaissance, Markkenzie Gaio, spoke about what he’s offering.

“Iowa is getting an all-around player. Ladja has a lot of great qualities influencing the victory. His ability to pick and roll, face up, push the ball, defend in multiple positions and so on, is what will help him play from day one. This is a kid who is constantly getting better and always wants to learn.”