"That is my brother right there," Okonoboh said of Noel. "I learned a lot from him, especially on the defensive end. Everything he does when it comes to defense I tried to watch and take notice. He's one of my best friends... I loved playing with him."
Okonoboh was actually in the 2013 recruiting class before choosing to re-classify last year. He then made the switch from Tilton to Wilbraham (MA) Wilbraham & Monson. What went in to his decision to join the 2014 class?
"[Reclassifying] is going to help me a lot," he stated. "It might not help everybody, but it's going to help me because I can continue to work on my offensive game to go on my defense. Plus, I'm taking advantage of it because I'm at a good school with a good coach. We're like a college prep team in terms of our workouts.
Okonoboh has also switched AAU programs, as he is now suiting up for Mass Rivals.
"When I first came to the AAU game I was playing on BABC with Nerlens [Noel], Georges Niang, Jake Layman... all those guys. There were players in front of me that were better and I had to wait my time. This is really my year to show my talent and show what I can do."
He is doing just that. Rated the No. 4 center prospect in the 2014 class. Blocking shots is Okonoboh's calling card, but he believes he is developing a versatile game.
"Everything is still a work-in-progress," he said. "I didn't just one day become good at blocking shots. I worked hard at it and now I'm trying to do that with the rest of my game.
I'm in the gym trying to become a complete player. Now it's starting to show in how I'm playing. I'm working on my jumphooks... overall offense."
The 6-foot-10, 220-pounder already holds offers from Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Maryland, UCONN, Gonzaga, Providence, Cincinnati, Marquette, Indiana, Minnesota, Florida, and NC State among others.
The Wolfpack was one of his recent offers, extending a scholarship earlier this week.
"NC State is a great team," said Okonoboh. "They like athletic big men and big men that are versatile. I like them a lot. They run... they play fast. I've watched them a lot of times. C.J. Leslie played there, and he is an exciting player.
"Coach Rob Moxley is recruiting me for NC State. He's a nice guy. He keeps it real."
Okonoboh pointed out that it is still early in the process and he doesn't know when he will be looking to make a decision. He hopes to start taking some visits later this summer.
"Right now my coach and my parents are telling me not to worry about the recruiting process," he said. "Everyone is the same right now. I don't have a favorite.
"I definitely think I'm going to sign in the fall period."