No matter how much basketball changes, size will always matter. The game has gradually shifted to emphasize spacing and three-point shooting while basically working to excise the idea of multi-big lineups (or those with interior pieces who are incapable of switching). This concept is less meaningful at the high school level, but still has an effect on the general development of post prospects. Those who would’ve previously worked on post hooks and drop-steps are now being encouraged to develop perimeter skills. While it differs from what traditionalists originally intended, it’s certainly led to a new wave of prospects. Take Rares Trandafir, for example. Though relatively unknown, the 6-foot-11 post player possesses the identity of a modernized big man (with clear upside still remaining).
Given Rabun Gap’s history of success with both big men and international prospects, the emergence of Trandafir should surprise no one. At first glance, the Romanian product looks like a grown man due to his blend of size, strength, and coordination. However, Trandafir is only a sophomore. It’s pretty uncommon to see young players (especially big men) with such a high level of confidence and overall polish. Upon talking with Trandafir, who came to America in August, he reveals that he’s only been playing basketball for seven years. Not only does this make his current identity that much more unbelievable, but it also makes him an exception to the universal notion that bigs take longer to develop. We asked him a few questions about the international game, his skillset, and recruitment…
What are some of the differences between European and American basketball?
“The game is so much faster [here], everyone is more athletic and there is more talent. Back in Europe, we used more teamwork and fundamentals.”
What are your biggest strengths and areas to improve?
“I think my biggest strength is my versatility. I need to improve my ball-handling and perimeter defense.”
What schools have gotten involved with your recruitment?
“I don’t think I have any colleges recruiting me right now, for what I know. It’s still really early and I hope I will grab some attention as soon as possible.”
Shockingly, Trandafir currently has no action within his recruitment—marking him a legitimate hidden gem for college coaches to uncover. The “call day” for sophomore prospects takes place in June, but it would be genuinely astonishing if he doesn’t hold 10+ offers by that point. He’s a phenomenal floor-spacer with IQ, touch, vision, and the ability to cause matchup problems for opponents. Trandafir is a lethal threat from beyond the arc with the necessary size and quick release to consistently get off quality looks against contesting opponents. He sees the floor well for a big man and commonly connects with cutting teammates. Trandafir is a reliable finisher, both above and below the rim, and two-way rebounder who runs the floor effectively in transition. He also blocks shots at a solid rate defensively. Although Rabun Gap has dealt with some injuries and struggles as a team, their schedule will only get more and more challenging going forward. That being said, this gives Division I coaches an opportunity to see Trandafir matchup with the likes of Heimir Helgason, Zymicah Wilkins, Michael Marcus, Cody Peck, and several others over these next few months. Don’t be surprised when Trandafir inevitably blows up.