Goodluck Okonoboh: Evaluation

There's always been a place in the college game for defensive specialists, and Okonoboh shines to brightly in that regard that he single-handedly can shut down an opponent's interior attack.


Goodluck Okonoboh emerged somewhat late on the grassroots scene, except for the fact he didn't. The Boston native didn't begin to draw widespread acclaim until his junior season in 2011-12, relatively late and especially for a big man. And in part for that reason, he re-classified from the 2013 crop into the Class of 2014.

From there, his ascent gained steam rapidly. Once again a junior in 2012-13, Okonoboh drew raves at the National Prep Showcase last November. At that juncture his recruitment remained in flux to the re-classification reset, and he listed Syracuse, Missouri and Kentucky as early favorites.

During that season he continued to amass strong credentials, and by spring he'd drawn Duke, Maryland, N.C. State, St. John's, Marquette and Arkansas in his recruitment.

He further impressed during the 2013 travel season, showcasing his abilities versus elite competition with Mass Rivals. Colleague Brian Snow anointed Okonoboh the "go to" player at the Adidas Invitational, as he impressed with his overall impact and competitive consistency.

His play ebbed at the Super 64 late in the month, but he'd constructed sufficient goodwill to mostly overcome that hiccup. His recruiting process remains feverish, and he is undertaking fall visits to determine a winner, which he may announce very soon. Indiana, UNLV and Ohio State widely are considered the favorites.


If you peruse Okonoboh's profile and the various write-ups from events, he frequently gets tabbed the best shotblocker in the class. It's a valid proclamation: He has accumulated almost literally unbelievable block numbers, swatting shots in every conceivable manner.

Okonoboh isn't merely one of those guys who abandons his man in an attempt to slap a shot into the baseline wall. He plays tough, sound position defense and racks up many of his blocks straight-up, a more useful method and one that tends to keep the ball in play.

He's very effective in that role because of his length, timing, desire and quick leaping ability. Though not truly eye-catching athletically, he's quick both off the ground and in terms of his reactions. Those qualities also enable him to rebound impressively on both ends, and upon the onset of his college career that's where — along with shotblocking — he'll likely make his first impact.

His offensive game shows promise. He can hit a short turnaround jump shot and isn't a bad interior finisher, so at least there's something to work with going forward.


"Something to work with" understandably may sound dubious to readers. Okonoboh's offense lags that of the elite big men in this class, as he has yet to formulate an identity on that end of the court. He sporadically contributes as an interior scorer, but he's likely years away from becoming a consistent factor.

Meanwhile, whether it was due to tired legs or for some other reason, his summer did not conclude on a high note. The diagnosis here is fluke, bad event, but it's worth noting and his play in Las Vegas certainly did impact his recruitment.

He's also roughly 30 pounds away from his ideal playing weight, another area to address over time.


Defensive mastery remains a certain talent by which a player can compete in any league and always garner his share of playing time. Though at 6-9, Okonoboh will need to develop his face-up forward skills for the pros, in the college game he projects as a shotblocking monster at center.

Combined with his rebounding prowess and overall ability to dominate and intimidate in the fashion of a 1980s big man, he should earn his way onto the court very early. A consistent offensive game may prove elusive for a few years, however, and for that reason a fully rounded game may not blossom until Okonoboh's post-college campaign.

But with good health and continued progress, he should enjoy the rare opportunity to carve out a long career in the sport.

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