The Washington State Cougars have landed perhaps the best guard recruit of the Kyle Smith era with 6’2 Adam Njie from the Bronx. Njie plays his high school ball for Cardinal Hayes in Arizona. He also plays for Expressions Elite EYBL with top prospects like AJ Dybantsa and Joson Sanon.
Njie is a member of the 2024 recruiting class, meaning that we still have a full season before we see him in Pullman, but it’s never too early to get excited about a huge recruit, especially one that WSU has already landed.
2024 4⭐️ Adam Njie just announced he has committed to Washington State.— 24/7 High School Hoops (@247HSHoops) May 6, 2023
Njie is shifty guard who can score from all over the floor. Excels at getting downhill and attacking the basket.
He chose Wazzu over Seton Hall, Arizona State, Mississippi State and Miami. @rtpgfx pic.twitter.com/0Au9zGLu1d
Let’s break down what he brings to the table!
The name of the game for Njie is paint touches. Njie excels at creating downhill pressure and getting to the rim. Generating rim pressure is arguably the most important skill that a guard can possess because it opens up everything else.
Generating paint touches tends to lead to a lot of layups and fouls. Njie’s small stature will force him to develop a lot of rim craft, but he has the building block to become a great rim-finisher because he already excels at getting there.
The other obvious benefit of rim-pressure is the passing angles that it opens up. Teams are generally not willing to give up layups, even to mediocre finishers. This forces opponents to bring in help, which opens up passing lanes to bigs on the roll, cutters, or shooters.
Njie manufactures these rim touches through a variety of methods. He is not an uber athlete and he doesn’t have a super deep bag, but he has an advanced feel for pace and angles. He sets up screens well, flips his hips to attack holes, and he is relentless when keeping his dribble alive and forcing his way downhill.
His first-step is good, but the really impressive Njie stuff comes from his second and third steps. He manufactures driving angles by turning the corner and bending around defenders. Bend is an underrated basketball skill, but it is often discussed with edge rushers in football. Being able to get around contact and exploit a half-step advantage is huge for a guard and it helps to force defensive rotations.
Njie does have a nice first-step and it shows up most when attacking off-the-catch. He consistently blows by defenders with quick rips to the rim and this would help to make him viable when playing next to other ball-handlers. Being able to continue an advantage is a benefit to any offense and Njie is top-tier at that.
Despite not having a super-refined handle, Njie does have some go-to moves. He loves to hit spins going either way and his footwork and swiftness make them viable. His pace and ability to explode, slow down, and explode again helps him to create an advantage both in isolation and the pick-and-roll.
There is also a lot of upside with Njie as a passer. He’s got some growth to do with reading the second level of defense, and proactively manipulating help, but he does make simple reads with regularity- and he flashes a higher level of understanding. He has a clear desire to make the right read, and this should do well on a team with good spacing. Across 8 EYBL games, he has 22 assists and only 13 turnovers, which also points to solid decision-making with the ball in his hands.
WSU has been sorely missing a real high-level driver at the PG spot since Isaac Bonton graduated in 2020. Myles Rice and Joseph Yesufu are both bets to be that type of player, and Njie falls right in line with that.
Njie is a solid, but not overwhelming, shooter. It is a bit of a two-motion jumper, with the ball raising separate from the leg mechanics. This is abnormal for smaller guards, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. His touch his good and the motion itself looks fine, but his shot-prep needs a lot of work and it will take time for him to develop into a deadly shooter.
Njie is at his best in transition, and he’s the type of player that could force Kyle Smith to change his offensive pace. He beats pressure with his top end speed, and watching him hit holes in a spaced-out defense is like watching a top-end running back breakthrough the second line of defenders.
When he’s at his best, Njie will hunt transition opportunities wherever possible. Opponent showing a weak press? Defense slightly slow to get back after a miss? Njie is going to push it down their throat and try to score at the rim with little resistance.
Finally, Njie is a high-upside defensive bet. Despite being skinny, he has an elite motor, good hands, and a solid feel for making plays. He has 10 steals thus far in EYBL play and he should be impactful on that end from day one in Pullman.
Njie is a huge win for Smith and staff. He is probably the best guard recruit that WSU has landed since 2019, and the upside is massive. Njie’s ability to get to the rim is amongst the best in his class, and his playmaking from that rim-pressure could make him one of the top guards in the Pac-12 in time.