You Remind Me Of...: Semi Ojeleye

It's always helpful for fans to have a point of reference when learning about new players that will be in Durham on a year to year basis. Often, it's helpful to compare a new recruit to a former Blue Devil. We've done just that with the help of the national recruiting team and Duke historian/author Jim Sumner.

When looking for the best formula for comparison, we decided on a three-step process:

First, we asked the national recruiting team of Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, and Josh Gershon to provide a scouting report of each of the incoming freshmen as well as some of the top Duke targets in the class of 2014.

Next, we compiled the data and then removed the names associated with each player card.

Finally, those blank player cards were presented to Mr. Sumner. We asked Jim to name the first former Blue Devil that came to mind based on the scouting report.

Here's the result…

Semi Ojeleye
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 218 pounds Wingspan: 6-foot-10 Scouting Report:

  • Great Athlete
  • Strong, College-ready body
  • Solid perimeter shooter
  • Blue-collar, tough around the basket
  • Defensive minded
  • Overall skill level needs to improve
  • Intangibles Player
  • Quick Description(0): Ojeleye is a powerfully built wing that shoots the ball well off the catch to 22-feet. He's a good rebounder and defender. He needs to improve his ball handling and shooting on the move. - Evan Daniels

    A tough combo forward who can play either spot, though has become more of a pure wing over the past 24 months. A kid who will rebound and hit threes, he is getting better off the dribble and can defend multiple positions - Brian Snow

    Sumner Says…: Dahntay Jones (2002-2003)

    Ojeleye, unlike Jones, will likely be in a Duke uniform for four seasons, whereas Dahntay was only able to suit up for the Blue Devils for two of three seasons thanks to NCAA transfer rules.

    Jones' first season was the ill-fated 2002 season that saw the top ranked and seeded Blue Devils fall to Jared Jeffries and Indiana in the Sweet 16. On that roster Jones played small forward while Mike Dunleavy moved over to power forward. The following season, Duke went small after Dunleavy, Jason Williams, and Carlos Boozer declared for the NBA Draft, and Jones often spent time at the power forward position.

    During his senior season, when Duke went small, Jones finished second on the team in rebounding, and first on the roster in defensive boards. The leader that year? Shelden Williams who finished with 15 more total rebounds, but 23 fewer defensive boards. Throughout the season Jones recorded several big games on the glass, including 11 rebounds against Georgetown and 13 against North Carolina.

    Dahntay was known for not only being a very good rebounder, but also for the power and ferocity of his dunks. He was also a pesky defender, capable of guarding bigger players by denying the ball, or smaller wings by matching athleticism and footwork.

    On the offensive side, Jones worked hard between his first and second season to pull his three-point shooting percentage from 23 percent up to just under 40 percent as a senior (.398)

    Similar to Jones' second season, Ojeleye walks into a situation where he will likely be asked to play as a power forward more often than not. The Kansas product enters the Blue Devil program already bigger and stronger than Jones as a senior (Ojeleye is a very chiseled 220 pounds), and has the size, wingspan, and athleticism that should allow him to compete against players who may be a bit taller. And, much like the former Blue Devil, Ojeleye is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

    "I just want to be ready to contribute however I can," Ojeleye told TDD. "What Coach needs from me, if there's more things I can do, then that's more opportunity for me to be on the court."

    Assuming Ojeleye is able to follow in Jones' footsteps and plays more in the front court, it's likely that he, like Jones, will create match-up issues for bigger teams looking to exploit their advantages inside. That seems to be the plan in Durham, and Krzyzewski has talked with Semi about that very topic:

    "Coach K's been saying it will be more like the teams of the 90s. Now, I'm not trying to compare us in any way to say we're better than those teams, they had a bunch of athletes, but they didn't have a ton of low post guys. They just had a bunch of athletes who could run and that's where Coach K is heading with this team. Depending on a team's size, we'll try to matchup with them as best we can, we'll just have to go from there."

    Early on it's unlikely that Ojeleye's offense will be called on even as much as Jones during his first season. And, depending on NBA attrition after the upcoming season, Ojeleye may not be asked for a lot of scoring as a sophomore. However, he's certainly proven capable of scoring in a number of ways at the high school level, albeit against inferior competition. This past season, Ojeleye's high school team went 25-0 and captured its state title, while he set career and senior-year scoring records (2,763 and 952 points, respectively) for the state of Kansas.

    Bottom line: Look for Ojeleye to mirror Jones' contributions on the defensive end of the floor, while showing glimpses of the kind of potential that earned him Parade All-America and Player of the Year honors as a senior. And, similar to Jones, look for Ojeleye to show up on a few highlight reels as he punishes the rim with powerful dunks.

    About Jim Sumner: Jim Sumner specializes in southern sports. He is a columnist for Go Duke: The Magazine, Inside Carolina magazine, Duke Basketball Report and College Sumner is a regular contributor to The Associated Press, the Durham Herald-Sun, the Wolfpacker, Basketball Times, ACC Sports Journal,,, Tar Heel Tipoff and Blue Devil Tipoff. He has written for The ACC Handbook, Baseball America, Duke Magazine, Basketball America, Our State, Metro Magazine, and numerous other magazines, journals, and websites.

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