NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The inherently quiet nature of Ikechukwu Obiagu is a sharp contrast from the powerful noise a basketball makes when he swats it away from an opposing player.
The Nigerian-born center known to many as “Ikey” is a friendly, approachable person when you talk to him outside of basketball. But he’s not exactly a guy most players want to see looming menacingly over the paint as they go to drive the lane.
With a 7-foot, 210-pound frame and wingspan that would make an albatross jealous, Obiagu is a prime target for elite college basketball programs across the country. The Scout five-star center and Greenforest McCalep Christian (Ga.) Academic Center superstar has already hauled in 13 offers and counting from programs like Kansas, Cincinnati, Florida and Kansas State, among others.
Tennessee has thrown its hat in the ring as well, and the Vols will get an extensive look at this class of 2017 prospect as he participates in the exclusive 2015 NIKE Peach Jam July 8-12 with his Elite Youth Basketball League team.
“(The coaching staff) just said that they’re going to try to come to all my games this Peach Jam,” Obiagu said. “They told me to keep working. They said they look forward to having me over there some time for a visit.”
The process to choose a college basketball team is new to Obiagu, who moved to the United States just two years ago. Tennessee has established a firm relationship with the blue chip center who is being pursued by some of the most elite basketball programs in the country.
“Whenever (Tennessee) hits me up I just try to reply,” he told InsideTennessee. “I call them back if I miss their call.”
The rising junior has developed into one of the best shot blockers in high school basketball, one whose size, length and natural instinct are extremely coveted entities for programs looking to improve in the paint. While he does have some work to do on his offensive game, the No. 3-ranked center in the South Region asserts himself as a dominant presence on defense.
“On the defensive end, I try to block every shot and get every rebound,” Obiagu said. “I play well with my teammates. I’m not selfish. I don’t try and score everything.”
When it comes to picking a college, Obiagu knows what he’s looking for. The rabid fan bases, gleaming facilities and snazzy uniforms won’t play even a tiny factor in the recruitment process of a player who said he’s primarily focusing on what schools can offer him on the court.
“They have to utilize their bigs,” Obiagu said. “They have to have a good academic history. Also, I want to get to play right away.”