Iowa Involved with Okwarabizie

Iyke Okwarabizie has overcome a lot in his young life. Things began clearing up for the Nigerian big man last month when he was cleared by the NCAA. That brought a couple of schools to his Texas JUCO recently. He spoke with HI about those conversations and the rest of his recruitment.

Ikenna Okwarabizie handled the news better than most high school kids. It could be attributed to his ability to adapt.

Caught up in NCAA red tape last spring, Okwarabizie couldn't accept a Division I basketball scholarship. He chose the junior college route. It turned out to be another turn in realizing his dream.

Okwarabizie moved to the U.S. from his native Nigeria in 2012. After a year in Saint Louis, he enrolled at Sioux City (IA) East High last summer.

The state high school athletic associate's transfer rule sidelined Okwarabizie until January last season. The 6-foot-10, 245-pound center impacted the games when he got on the court.

Drake and South Dakota State stepped in with scholarship offers. Iowa, South Florida, Tennessee and Wichita State were showing interest.

Then, the NCAA poked a hole in the big man's plans. The college athletics governing body would not clear him academically. Undeterred, he accepted an invitation to play at Tyler (TX) Community College.

Late last month, the NCAA cleared him. The development caught the attention of Division I schools.

Iowa Assistant Andrew Francis recently stopped at Tyler to visit with Okwarabizie. Head Coach Fran McCaffery followed.

"(McCaffery) said that they were happy to be recruiting me. We talked a lot. He also said that I fit in what they're trying to build and that they have a spot for me. I don't know if I should interpret that as them offering me," Okwarabizie said.

NCAA rules prohibit McCaffery from speaking about unsigned recruits. The Hawkeyes hold two open scholarships for the 2015 Class. They need post players.

Okwarabizie plans to play at Tyler this season and then transfer to a Division I school. He'll have four years to play three in that scenario.

After McCaffery stopped at Tyler, UCLA dropped by to see Okwarabizie, he said.

"It was the assistant coach that came. He said that they really like me," Okwarabizie said.

Okwarabizie could sign in the early period (Nov. 12-19) or wait until the spring (April 15-May20).

"I don't know just yet," he said.

That decision could come down to what his offer list looks like at next month's signing period.


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