Thursday, October 3, 2013
Scouts: Okonoboh fits in well at UNLV
By Paul Biancardi
Goodluck Okonoboh (Woburn, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson), the No. 21 prospect in the Class of 2014, committed to UNLV on Thursday night. Here’s what the commitment means for the Rebels:
Why he committed: Okonoboh enjoyed all of his visits but he liked the last one the most. The uptempo style of play of UNLV under Dave Rice is an attraction that was emphasized on his visit, and playing fast and scoring points appealed to Okonoboh. The Rebels have been scoring more than 70 points a game in the Mountain West, and UNLV has ranked among the 20 fastest teams nationally in average offensive possession length during Rice’s tenure. The Rebels plan for him and their style of play was the difference.
What he brings: There has been quite an improvement in Okonoboh's performances the last few years, especially in the last year. First and foremost, he is now starting to bring a defensive mindset of not only blocking his man’s shot, but all attempts. His timing is becoming precise as he understands the best shot blockers jump last and usually once. His body is strong and athletic, and he runs rim to rim looking for layups and dunks or to chase down an opponent and erase a potential basket. He rebounds on most occasions and is definitely playing with a greater sense of urgency. Offensively he catches drop-off passes and lobs while searching out the missed shot for second-chance points. His post-up game and his short, face-up skills are evolving. “Goodluck has a lot of God-given ability with a teachable sprit. He is now the type who will push himself and others to be great,” said Wilbraham & Monson head coach Chris Sparks
How he fits: The Rebels lose senior big man Carlos Lopez-Sosa, and probably will lose Khem Birch to the NBA draft if he has a productive season and the Rebels win, which it looks like they will do. Many teams say they play fast, but UNLV really does. Rice and his staff recruit athletes in the front court who can convert quickly. The best way to start a fast break is to make stops, rebound and outrun your opponents down the floor. Okonoboh can spark the conversion game with his shot-blocking abilities and rebounding. He will know that if he can ignite the break and sprint the floor, he can get it back in transition. The Rebels, as most teams do, either start or finish their offense with a ball screen. Okonoboh can set different angles that will have him dive to the rim, get him in a post-up on the block or pick-and-pop and release him to the short corner for a jumper.
Who he reminds us of: A younger Ben Wallace, as both change a game with their energy and shot-blocking prowess. They run in straight lines, attacking the rim with strong finishes and power blocks. Offensively they cash in from others, and you find them rolling and rising to the rim. Both never have to leave the lane to be effective and make a difference. If Okonoboh continues to work on his body and learns how to master the paint, he can follow a similar path.
How the class is shaping up: When you look at UNLV’s two-man recruiting class, it now becomes very dynamic in the front court. Dwayne Morgan is an explosive athlete and strong finisher who can patrol the paint and block some shots. He and Okonobo will comprise a front court with size, length and athletic ability to keep UNLV relevant on a national level.