At 6’3, and possessing near-Point Guard handles, Kris Yanku proves a tough, if not nightmare, match-up for most High School opponents. He’s an accurate passer (particularly on the run) and appears to carry a natural feel for the game. This past season Yanku played for one of California’s top teams (Taft, Woodland Hills) and on multiple occasions led his team in scoring. Impressive resume’. Now the head scratcher….Kris doesn’t hold a D1 offer. The more I think I know about this recruiting thing the less I prove to understand.
Possibly working against Yanku is the previously mentioned “MixTape” phenomenon. Yanku is not an above-the-rim athlete and doesn’t carry the ankle-breaking cred of some of his peers. He does however, have a high-level motor, look to play lock-down D, and (when called upon) is capable of carrying the brunt of his squads offensive workload. Late in January ’12 Yanku and his Taft teammates met San Diego power Lincoln High in the San Diego-Los Angeles Challenge. In a game featuring D1 recruits Anthony January, Allesandro Alberto and twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson, it was Kris Yanku many in attendance viewed as the most effective. Often most striking about Yanku’s game is the seemingly at-will ability he possesses in slashing to the hoop. Although he doesn’t have elite speed/agility, you simply can’t get overlook the fact he has the innate ability to get around/beyond his man. Whether its subtle head-fakes or deceptive quickness, it’s clear Kris knows his strengths and, more importantly, how to maximize his talents so as to exploit any shortfalls in his defenders game.
With interest from UC-Irvine, Portland, Virginia Tech, and San Diego State, there exists the strong possibility Yanku will not have to wait much longer for his first offer. Assuming his game continues to develop and his Senior season builds off the success of his Junior campaign, my guess is many suitors will arrive fashionably late to this party. Kris is the first to tell you his game remains a work in progress. His outside game can run streaky and there’s room to tighten up his ball security. Adding consistency from beyond the arc should only add to his slashing opportunities/success as defenders are forced to honor his jumper. In an up-tempo/transition setting Yanku could pay early dividends on the college level as he appears to thrive on the run. If Kris isn’t done growing, and gets to 6’5 or so he could am interesting prospect out of the 2-spot. As with most HS Juniors he’ll need to add 15-20lbs of muscle, without compromising agility, to improve his chances at the NCAA level. Interesting to note San Diego State is already on Yanku. Coach Steve Fisher has developed a reputation for unearthing under-the-radar prospects (Kawhi Leonard, Skylar Spencer) before the word gets out and the rest of college basketball comes running. If Fisher and co. see something, it’s safe to assume it’s there.
When I asked Kris to describe his game he responded, “Hard-worker, hates to lose, plays good defense, makes plays.” Speaks to a maturity not expected of the average 16-17 year old. No references to “mad hops” or “killa J” or his “MixTape”. Hard-worker, hates to lose, plays good defense, and makes plays. Combine that with a natural feel for the game and a surprising ease in driving the lane and scoring in traffic, and you may have yourself a very successful D1 basketball player. My guess is the “Turkish Mamba” is ok with folks underestimating him, but do so on the court and he’s smiling all the way to the hoop.