Matt Visinsky

SMU Basketball Player Profile: Semi Ojeleye primed for big season

Patrick continues Pony Stampede's SMU Basketball Player Profile series with junior forward Semi Ojeleye, a former five-star recruit who comes in with high expectations after sitting out last season due to transfer rules.

Position: Forward

Size: 6-7, 235 pounds

Year: Redshirt junior

High School: Ottawa High School (Kan.)

Hometown: Ottawa, Kan.

Recruitment

Ojeleye was a five-star recruit and the No. 26 overall prospect in the 2013 cycle. A transfer from Duke, he committed to the Blue Devils in September of his senior year. His other finalists were Indiana, Oregon and Stanford. Ottawa reached the Kansas 4A state title game in Ojeleye’s senior year. He played AAU for MoKan Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit. His family is originally from Nigeria.

2015-2016 Recap

After transferring to SMU in December 2014, Ojeleye sat the first half of last season due to NCAA transfer rules. He was eligible to play in December, but SMU decided to redshirt him for the second half of the season so he would have two full seasons of eligibility left starting in 2016-17. He hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 30, 2014. In 17 career games at Duke, he averaged 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in 6.2 minutes. He’s one of two former five-star recruits in the AAC (Connecticut point guard Jalen Adams is the other).

Grade: N/A

2016-2017 Outlook

There’s no concern about rust or inexperience with Ojeleye, even though he hasn’t played in two years. In practice during his redshirt year and in preseason workouts this year, he's looked like one of SMU’s best players. Even though he’s best on the wing, he’s going to play center and in the frontcourt for SMU. His athleticism, explosiveness, aggressiveness and ability to stretch the floor make up for any height concerns as a center. In a looser and freer offense, he will be asked to move around more than just a traditional center or post player.

SMU lost its two primary centers from last season, leaving SMU with Ojeleye and four-star freshman Harry Froling as the primary options there. Both bring different attributes and skill to the position. With second-leading scorer and rebounder Ben Moore Ben Moore returning as SMU’s starting 4-man, the Mustangs don’t have a completely new frontcourt. SMU will count on Ojeleye to provide some production on the glass as well, and every indication from practice is that he’s more than capable of it. It won’t be surprising if Ojeleye ends up on an all-conference team at the end of the season.


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