Rockville (Md.) Montrose
His strength is one of his strengths. Uche is a guy who is not going to arrive as a rail-thin stringbean – this guy has a basketball body, and he's going to be ready to come in and play as a freshman. And I think his game has a couple really, really strong parts. He's physical enough to challenge and rebound inside. And, he's also got a component to his game where he can step away from the basket and keep you honest. A lot of power forwards would like to have the tools he has to work with.
Right now the stuff outside the post is part of his skill set -- that he has the ability to play facing the basket. I don't think anyone feels it's a good idea for Uche to step out beyond the arc and fire away, but the point is he's got the ability to play facing the basket. That means on the college level if he can do that at the free throw line, baseline and on the elbows – he's got an added component to work with. If he can make mid-range jumpers, face his man up, shot fake and drive him, it'll enable him to further expand his game. And he's not out there clunking them – he's got a decent shot. But he's got to enhance his skill set to where it's usable in college ball – and that's going to come in mid-range and perimeter play.
A lot of power forwards would like to have the tools he has to work with.
As for being consistently aggressive, that's something he has to iron out. You look at him and his body and size and you want him to be dominant each time out. That's something they've tried to work with him on – I'm not saying he's inconsistent, but every single time he's got to be the double-digit rebound guy and I think he can. He's such a great kid that you've got to take that great kid right now and turn him loose. He's got to get into the mindset where it's about ‘This is what I need to do to help us win, which is to kick my guy's tail.'
Back at the West Virginia showcase earlier this year, Kevin Swinton put one on Uche – clearly out played and outmuscled him. And after that you saw Uche get a little bit meaner and I think that was a good sign. It served as a wake up call for him – ‘At the level I want to play at, I've got to bring it every time out or this can happen.' I think he saw that and it set off a couple bells for him.
He's got to flip the switch and develop a killer mentality.
Though other analysts have mentioned it, I've never really watched him and seen his hands as being a tremendous concern. I think it's just a matter of improving his instincts. He is such an unbelievable kid - and that's overused a lot - but this is one of the true student athlete nice guys that you root for. That's a great trait to have. One of the things he's going to have to adjust to is he's got to flip the switch and become more instinctual and stronger with the basketball and develop a killer mentality. He's been the best inside player at Montrose, but hasn't really been challenged. At the college level, he'll be pushed harder in practices and games will be wars – how will he respond to that?
I thought Uche's 2004 Nike All-American Camp was the place that legitimized his talent. This isn't a guy who played in a lot of tourneys. (The last time I saw him play AAU ball was right when he first got to the country and injured his knee, tore it up at the '02 Charlie Weber event. They took him off on a stretcher and that was the last time I saw him play AAU basketball. He's fine now, but he blew it out that day.) What that Nike Camp did was that was a small window of opportunity to judge him the way you judge everybody else by looking at him against top flight players. And I thought at Nike Camp last year he was outstanding. That's where he first showed his touch and it was a situation where he started feeling comfortable in his own skin as a big time player. He might not have known going into that week just how good he was. But coming out of that week he realized ‘I'm pretty good.'
At Nike Camp last year he was outstanding.
No. 34 -- He'll finish somewhere in our top 50. I think because of his skill set it sets him apart a bit, but the big question about how successful he is in college comes down to one simple thing – does he walk out onto that floor as Mr. Nice Guy or does he walk out on that floor as a guy who is good enough to have an impact in basketball games and exerts his willl on opponents?
It's important to note the kind of student this guy is. What's important to Uche, isn't what's important to most college-bound kids. He just wants to go back to Nigeria and help his family run their business. He is here in the U.S. to educate himself and it just so happens that he's a pretty good basketball player and that's the avenue that will help him get where he needs to be.
He hasn't seen his family in a few years. He's made a tremendous sacrifice, as big as any kid in the country, when you leave your family and haven't seen them in a long time. So here's a kid who has worked real hard on his game, and he's done it without his family and thousands of miles from home. He's not here for the quick fix. He wants to get the paper to certify himself as a college graduate and if he plays pro ball so be it, but his main goal is to one day get back home to be with his family.
He's made a tremendous sacrifice – as big as any kid in the country.