Coach Jarod Haase and the new Cardinal coaching staff have closed on their first recruit, securing a verbal commitment from Anaheim's Kezie Okpala, who just completed an unofficial to Stanford this past weekend. Okpala attends Esperanza High and will be a part of Stanford's incoming class of 2017.
The pursuit of the 6'8" swingman backs up what we'd heard about the new staff's intent to recruit playmakers and versatility. The kind of position-less basketball employed by the Golden State Warriors is certainly something the new staff is hoping to phase into the Cardinal program.
Scout has Okpala ranked as the 68th best player in his class overall, the 18th best at his position, and the best small forward in California. He currently sits at four stars. Clearly, Okpala's visit made an impact since as recently as a month ago he downplayed the rumor that Stanford's interest in him had deterred other schools from pursuing the talented cager.
Scout's Josh Gershon quoted Okpala a month ago as saying "[Stanford] is a great school and I would be lucky to get an offer from there but it's not necessarily a game-changer," he said. "It's all about the right fit for me." Clearly, the Cardinal coaches and Okpala's unofficial weekend visit swayed him firmly towards Coach Haase's program.
There has been a great deal of renewed energy and enthusiasm coming out of the program since Coach Haase's hiring, but now there is some tangible evidence that his message is reaching recruits.
We'll have more to come on the Okpala signing as well as the rest of Stanford's recruiting efforts with the Class of 2017 and beyond.