Tulane basketball coach Ed Conroy might as well hang a “Help Wanted” sign under the basket at Devlin Fieldhouse.
The Green Wave coach is actively looking for candidates who can provide immediate assistance in the low post and has spent the past year trying to fill a glaring need in his operation.
This weekend, Conroy has a critical chance to fill the vacancy as he attempts to lure 7-foot-1, 245-pound center Link Kabadyundi, who is making his way from Canada to New Orleans. It’s Kabadyundi’s third official visit of the recruiting season, following previous stops at Nebraska and TCU.
Kabadyundi played his prep basketball at Alma Academy in Montreal and is amongst the most pivotal pieces in Tulane’s plan as it transitions from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. Entering the new league, which returns four teams from last year’s NCAA tournament, including national champion Connecticut, the Green Wave will need to reshape its interior offense.
The offseason graduation of centers Tomas Bruha and Kevin Thomas shrunk Tulane’s already thin frontcourt, which featured just one post player amongst its top six scorers. It leaves an opening to be filled by Tulane’s recruiting class which is expected to sign at least two prospects before the summer.
This weekend, the priority is on Kabadyundi.
“Tulane has a lot of the things he’s looking for,” said Kabayundi’s brother, Yannick Wak. “The fact Tulane is playing in a big conference with competitive players and top-level competition means a lot. I mean, UConn won the national championship, and that’s a team Tulane is going to play once or twice a year.
“He wants to play against the best and be a part of that competitiveness and prove himself at the highest levels. But we still need to see exactly what’s best for him.”
Wak said he’d like to make decision before the beginning of June. He also said Kabadyundi intends to take two other official visits but hasn’t yet decided where to take them. As a 7-footer who can run the floor, his stock among teams in need of a center is rising.
“We aren’t going to rush to make a decision and we need to make sure wherever he decides is the right fit,” Wak said. “We will have a few days to check out Tulane and get an idea of it fits him and whether he feels comfortable there.”
Kabadyundi’s visit comes on the heels of fellow big man Rokas Gustys, who was in New Orleans last weekend. The Oak Hill Academy product and native of Lithuania is rated as a three-star prospect by 247sports.com and has also emerged as a critical target for the Green Wave.
Gustys, a 6-foot-9, 245-pound center said toughness and hustle are amongst his best features on the floor and insisted defense is a priority for him. He narrowed his choices to Tulane, UAB, Hofstra and Long Island last week and said he’s trimmed the list to two, with a decision to be made next week.
Considering the open space available under the Tulane basket, it’s a decision the Green Wave staff is watching closely.
“I am looking for playing time at the highest level I can,” Gustys said. “Because I played in good programs at Oak Hill Academy and (Lithuanian) National team, and we always won. It is big opportunity for me to come and play right away. It’s going to affect my decision.”