Ugboh growing roots in grassroots hoops

Most individuals, young or otherwise, would struggle mightily during their first year in a new country. But while he does continue to acclimate, Emmanuel Ugboh has authored a rousing opening act.

Nigeria has sent more than its share of native sons to American shores for basketball, and Emmanuel Ugboh hopes to successfully capture his own dreams.

Having been in the U.S. for less than one year, Ugboh already competes aggressively and quickly has acquired some nuance for the game. And let’s face it: At 6-10, 260 pounds, he won’t require but so much nuance.

Ugboh clearly relies heavily on his size and strength. A southpaw, he doesn’t attempt to play away from the rim and appears to relish opportunities to punish the basket on dunks as well as defenders who attempt to snuff him inside. He uses his left hand frequently to tip rebounds in his direction in order to gain control, and once he secures the ball he loves to use his elbows to discourage would-be ball thieves.

He also runs the floor well and, albeit mechanical offensively, does make an occasional half hook from as far away as eight feet. He’s by no means polished, but his progress warrants extensive looks over the next two high school seasons.

”I’m really working on my hook shot,” Ugboh said. “I like to watch the NBA and want to develop as much as I can.”

Ugboh’s recruitment is only beginning to germinate, but according to’s Mississippi State publisher, Gene Swindoll, he’s linked to Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee, Tennessee-Martin and Baylor at this early juncture.

A player of his caliber and newness to America typically will undertake his recruitment more methodically than those who’d lived here their entire lives, but suffice it to say college coaches will continue working to make a strong early impression.

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