Von Steuben’s Rafael Cruz Jr. in the CPLBCA all-star game.

By: Eric Van Dril   |   April 11, 2017

Von Steuben’s Rafael Cruz Jr. and Farragut’s Kawanise Wilkins are similar in several different ways.

The seniors are both big, versatile guards. They can score inside and outside. They were the unquestioned leaders of their high-school teams this past season.

They’re also both unsigned.

Cruz and Wilkins have received interest from college programs, but they haven’t yet decided where they will play next season.

“It’s so hard, making a college decision — weighing all of the options, especially academically,” Cruz said. “I’m sort of in the middle (of the process) right now.”

Cruz and Wilkins both played well in the CPLBCA all-star game on Saturday, April 8. Cruz knocked down five 3-pointers for the North-West team, which lost 151-141. The 6-foot-3 point guard finished with 21 points and six rebounds. Wilkins, meanwhile, finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds.


Farragut’s Kawanise Wilkins earlier this season.

College coaches talked with Cruz and Wilkins after the event. The following day, they both played in front of even more college coaches at the Evan Turner Prospect Showcase.

They, like the majority of the CPLBCA all-stars, are still trying to show college coaches what they’re capable of on the basketball court.

In both events, “I want to show that I’m versatile,” Wilkins, a 6-foot-5 guard, said. And that “I can play with the best, show my skillset — dribble, shoot, rebound — and be able to be in a position (on the court) that the coach wants me to be in.”

Wilkins, like Cruz, is also still uncertain regarding where he will play next year — and at what level.

The level Wilkins ends up at will likely depend on his ACT score, he said. Wilkins is still waiting to learn the results of his most-recent test. An 18 would open the door to play Division I basketball.

“I’m in talks with lots of (Division I programs) and a couple (Junior Colleges) and prep schools,” Wilkins said. “Once I get this 18 (on the ACT), I’ll be fine. … I had a 17. I just need one point.”

Cruz added that he will likely choose his college after he plays in the remaining all-star games he is scheduled to play in.