It’s not often a three-star wing with versatility and athleticism is considered the underdog on his team, but things are a little unique in the case of Josh Okogie.
The 6-foot-4, 175-pound class of 2016 prospect regularly laces up with Scout’s No. 1-ranked overall player in the country, Harry Giles, and four-star UConn commit Alterique Gilbert, who both play on his Team CP3 AAU team. Giles can handpick where he wants to attend college, while Gilbert committed to play at one of the most historic basketball programs in the country.
Competing with two of most highly touted recruits in the 2016 class does have its perks, though, like the ability to practice nightly with guys who are already preparing for life in the NBA.
“It feels great. It definitely puts you in a position to see where you are and it puts you in a position to get better,” Okogie told InsideTennessee. “They push me to get better every day and tell me I’m the man. I’ve got to play and just calm down and that’s what I did (Thursday.)”
Okogie notched 13 points, two assists, two blocks and two steals in his team’s 97-73 win over Mac Irvin Fire in the first game of the Nike Peach Jam. But the real highlight came hours after, when Tennessee became the first SEC school to officially offer him a scholarship.
“They want me to come in and make a major impact as a freshman,” he said. “They just had Rick Barnes come in with a whole new recruiting staff. They like me really well.”
Speaking with all three assistant coaches on Tennessee’s staff has familiarized Okogie with the Vols’ program. The fact that Rick Barnes has sent two dozen players to the NBA didn’t exactly hurt either.
“That’s certainly a draw,” he said. “I like coming from a line of champions. That’s certainly something I’m comfortable with and I’m ready for the challenge.”
It’s presumed Tennessee likes the fact that Okogie goes head-to-head in practice with two of the best high school players in the world, who also help free him up on the court.
“I have to establish a rhythm. Everybody’s going to be focusing on Harry and Alterique,” Okogie said. “They told me I’ve got to step up because everybody’s going to be focusing on them, so I’ve been practicing and I certainly took that role.”
While the rising senior gains valuable experience on the AAU circuit playing for a team dripping with talent, he’s also starting to learn the process of being a cherished recruit. When it comes to pinpointing the place he’ll next call home, Okogie knows exactly what he wants.
“I’m looking for somewhere that I can make an impact early,” he said. "(I want) somewhere where I can get my education so I can take my life serious after school, and somewhere where I’m comfortable with the basketball and maybe have a chance to go to the league.”