Malik Ondigo put together what he considered to be “a couple exceptional” performances at the Pangos Sweet 16 Spectacular in Southern California last weekend, and the Buffaloes' staff was on hand to witness it.
“Colorado has been recruiting me for two years and I think they just needed to see a little more to say, 'Okay, dang, we need to get him.' We got the call from Tad Boyle,” said the 6-foot-10 power forward recruit from El Mirage (Ariz.) Dysart.
Boyle extended a scholarship offer during that phone conversation, now making Ondigo one of the Buffaloes' top recruiting targets for the Class of 2017. Ondigo graduated from high school earlier this summer but he plans to spend a year at a prep school before beginning his college eligibility.
“I am looking at my dresser and I have some Colorado mail on top so they have been recruiting me for a while,” he recapped. “[Buffs associated head] coach [Jean] Prioleau first came to watch me to years ago at my high school and he has been at all my events the past two years.
“I got hurt at the end of the spring period last year and it carried over to the summer. I had bad knee tendinitis. I could barely walk, much less run, but I played on it and tried to give it all I had. It hurt my recruiting then but now I am healthy and I have shown what I can do when I'm healthy.”
Although Ondigo has never been to Boulder, he feels he has a decent idea of what the Buffaloes have to offer. After the July evaluation period ends, Ondigo plans to schedule a trip out to Colorado.
“I am a college basketball nut so basically from Saturday morning at 10 am to 11 o'clock at night, I am waking up watching Big East and then at night I am watching Mountain West games. I have always enjoyed watching Colorado play,” he said. “They have a nice program at Colorado. It is a solid team in the Pac-12 that competes for championships.
“The campus at Colorado is beautiful and I know that because my former high school coach would drive to Wisconsin and every time he would stop at Boulder Creek on the way back and send me pictures. It is just really nice. I can't wait to come check it out for myself.”
Cal Poly, Kansas State, Northern Arizona, Utah State and UTEP are the other schools that have offered Ondigo so far. USC, Arizona State, St. Mary's, Wake Forest, Gonzaga and Georgia Tech are some of the other programs set to evaluate him closer in the coming weeks. For now, he is keeping an open mind.
“I am here for the ride. I don't really have a dream, go-to school,” he said. “Once the July period is over, I will give it a week or so. I am going to let all the coaches meet and make their top list. If you call and start recruiting me in July or right afterward, I am going to take you into consideration because then I know I am one of the top one or two guys on your board.
“I am not going to wait until September or October because then that just means you missed out on your top guys. I don't want to be someone's back-up plan. I want to be a go-to guy, like with Colorado. They offered now and I feel like I am high on their board. That is going to likely keep Colorado in my top list because I feel like they really want me.”
Ondigo views himself as a stretch four. He is working hard to prove he can also play on the wing.
“I have worked on my game a lot, especially my ball handling, and it showed last weekend in Los Angeles,” he said. “I was playing good defense; got a lot of steals by playing the passing lanes. I rebounded and ran the floor and showed my post footwork. I also showed my basketball IQ when it comes to passing, making the right decisions.
“I have a good jump shot and I am looking to add a little more range so I am consistently knocking down threes. Even if I am viewed as a four for college, I still want to develop my skills like I am going to play on the wing because the game is evolving and big men now can do more than just stand in the post.”
In addition to picking a four-year college for the future, Ondigo is also still determining which prep school he will enroll at for the 2016-17 school year and basketball season.