Semi Ojeleye Showing Illinois Some Interest

When a new coaching staff takes over a college program, there are changes in recruiting priorities. Besides looking for players to fit their programs, new coaches may have connections not present with the previous staff. The Fighting Illini recruited Kansas native Semi Ojeleye before their coaching change, but there may be more interest now that John Groce is in charge.

Semi Ojeleye is a standout small forward for Ottawa, Kansas, and the Mo-Kan Elite AAU team. His recruitment has skyrocketed this past year. Illinois contacted him before head coach Bruce Weber and his staff were let go, but he may have more interest now.

"I've been following Illinois. I was recruited a little bit before the coaching staff left, I think it was Coach (Jay) Price, and I'm looking at them a little bit now. They're picking up my recruitment more now. I've liked the program for a while and what they've done in the past. Not this past season, of course."

The Illini fell apart at season's end, precipitating Weber's demise. But Ojeleye understands how a losing streak is always possible when goals are unmet. He isn't familiar with new coach John Groce, but he's heard a little about assistant Jamall Walker.

Walker has a close relationship with the Spiece organization, which sponsors Ojeleye's AAU team among several programs. It is presumed Walker will be contacting him shortly.

For those who are unfamiliar with the 6'-6" forward, he averaged over 23 points and 6.5 rebounds as a sophomore at Ottawa, and he upped that to around 30 points and 7 boards per game as a junior. He sees his game getting better through hard work.

"I am at my best when I'm more aggressive. That way, I can use my strength and aggressiveness to get the bucket.

"I'm really working on my shooting, and I'm more consistent with it. When they try to defend my shot, I'm able to attack the rim more. My goal is to keep getting better."

The 6'-6", 215 pounder played more on the low post as a soph, but he says he was stationed mostly at the 1 and 2 this past winter. With his combination of skills, it is no surprise his recruiting has taken off.

"UCLA, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Oregon, Oregon State. Those are a few of the ones that come to mind right now."

His older brother Victor is a senior at K-State. Wisconsin was the first to offer him a scholarship, and it has been persistent in watching his games and keeping in touch. But he says he is open to everyone at this time. He's looking for the right combination of academics and athletics.

"I want a school that has high academic standards. I don't think that will be too much of a problem wherever I go. Basketball-wise, I'm looking for a good family environment where the coaching staff cares about the players on a personal level."

Scout's 12th rated small forward has ambitious plans for his college major.

"I'm looking at Engineering as a major, but people change majors here and there. It's a good place to start. It will be a challenge, but I think I'd like it. When you're done with basketball, you need those things."

Will he be making his decision before the start of his senior basketball season?

"I don't know. I'm kind of taking it slowly, just waiting to hear what God tells me."

Through the force of his personality and skill on the court, Ottawa enjoyed a banner winter.

"We're 4-A. The biggest in Kansas is 6-A. We finished second in the state. We lost three seniors from last year, but one of them didn't play a lot. So we have a lot of returning guys with experience next year."

He's also hoping to have success with Mo-Kan Elite this summer.

"I think we'll be solid this year. We won't be as big as we were last year, but we hope to be fast and be able to keep up with all the athletic teams out there. We're going to Minnesota on the 20th, and on the 27th we'll be in Hampton, Virginia."

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