It wasn’t that long ago that Virginia Academy three-star center Ejike Obinna was the new guy in a strange place. Just four years ago, Obinna moved to the United States from his native Nigeria to pursue a better education and a better chance at basketball.
Now, it looks like that move has paid off in a few ways. Not only is Obinna more comfortable off the court and with American culture, he’s become a hot commodity on the court.
Obinna has well over a dozen offers, but he’s narrowed his list to five: Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt. A planned English major, Obinna has one official visit down, more coming and continues to look at what school fits him best.
“I’m trying to see where people care, like coaches and where there are good people,” he said. “Somewhere the coaches are good. I don’t actually look for a lot. The main thing is getting along with people, that’s all. I think they’re all great programs and stuff. They’d all be good places and good teammates.”
Obinna has emerged as one of the Hokies’ top targets to finish the 2017 class. He’s yet to schedule an official visit, but has already been on a number of unofficial trips.
“They’re really good, a great school,” Obinna said. “I’ve been there more than any others, like three or four times. I still need to set up an official there. For me, I’ve seen Virginia Tech a lot. I don’t think the official will do a lot. It’s right here in Virginia and I’ve been going down there a lot. It’s not something new for me. I have a great relationship with the coaches and they’re coming for a home visit.”
The Hokies’ staff will be visiting Obinna Sept. 11 for an in-home visit. He also has in-home visits set with Vanderbilt for Sept. 9 and Clemson for Sept. 12.
Coach Buzz Williams and assistant coach Steve Roccaforte have recruited Obinna for months, but assistant coach Christian Webster has somewhat taken the reins since joining the staff in early July.
“I talk to all the coaches,” Obinna said. “They’re great people. I know them all in person. I’ve talked to them more than a year now. The last time I went, they showed me a lot of videos. We talked about how they see me, how I’d fit in and everything.”
Obinna took his first official visit on Aug. 19, to Clemson. The Tigers impressed him in a number of ways, including how he would fit in.
“It was really good, great coaches, great people, great teammates and all that stuff,” Obinna said. “I was very impressed.
“They have a guy from Senegal (Sidy Djitte) who will graduate next year. They told me I’d be replacing that type of big. They told me this is who I’m gonna play with and they can’t wait to get me in the gym and start working with me. But I know I still have to earn my spot, my playing time. They said they really need me.”
This weekend, Obinna will take official visit No. 2, to Florida. On Sept. 17, he’ll officially see Oklahoma and he’ll do the same Sept. 23 to Vanderbilt. Obinna said he wants to make a decision by early October.
Obinna said he knows he’ll make a smooth transition wherever he chooses to play next. He’s already made one stateside and continues to do so.
“I’m getting more and more comfortable playing,” Obinna said. “I wanna get a lot of playing time going forward. The more you play, the better you get and the more confident you are. I’m trying to make my all-around game better. It’s gonna be getting harder. I’m trying to be unstoppable, so I’m trying to make my game not be on the simple stuff, but do things when it’s needed. I’m trying to shoot, trying to drive, push moves, all that stuff. Whatever is given to me, I’ll take it and use it against the opponent.”