After a solid season at Rochester (N.Y.) Bishop Kearney, Chinonso Obokoh, a 6-foot-9, 215-pound post prospect, is ready for the rigors of the travel team circuit.
Obokoh’s mentor Kevan Sheppard, who is also the girl’s basketball coach at Bishop Kearney, said Obokoh loves the challenge of playing against players that can match his size in the post.
“He doesn’t get pumped up to play against teams that don’t have someone his size,” Sheppard explained.
“At home he was the small guy,” Sheppard said, referring to Obokoh’s home country of Nigeria. “He’s used to playing with big guys. When you get him on a court full of guys 6-4 and 6-5 he doesn’t think it’s fun.”
So the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League should bring out the best in Obokoh, who is running with the Albany City Rocks. Led by Obokoh, Jim Hart’s squad is off to a strong start, as they finished EYBL Minnesota with a perfect record of 4-0.
“He did really good in Minnesota,” Sheppard, who acts as an assistant coach for the City Rocks, said.
“He hit a couple of jump shots,” he added. “He showed off a lot of post moves. He idolizes Akeem Olujuwan in the post because they are both from Nigeria.”
Sheppard said Obokoh’s best quality is his ability to run the floor.
“He has like a Ferrari engine,” Sheppard said. “He’s fast period. Some people say he’s fast for a big man, but he can hawk down a point guard in no time.”
While the recruiting process can be a difficult process for any recruit to navigate, Obokoh has limited knowledge of the process and the schools involved.
“It’s early because he’s gaining more attention,” Sheppard said. “But I’d say it’s early because before he got here the only NCAA tournament game he’d seen was the NCAA championship between Butler and Duke.”
“Then when he got here it was UConn and Butler,” he added. “Then it was Kentucky and Kansas. Up and until two weeks ago he was like ‘what do I have to do to get Butler to send me a letter?’”
Tradition and history can often times play a role in the recruiting process, but don’t expect it to factor into Obokoh’s decision making.
“To him, the history of a program doesn’t mean anything,” Sheppard explained. “It’s his own history. Two out of three years Butler was there and they were one shot away against the Duke. That was his thinking.”
Obokoh currently holds scholarship offers from Oregon, West Virginia, Villanova, Temple, James Madison, Boston, Miami and Dayton. Texas, Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Kansas and Providence have also showed interest.
To date, Obokoh has taken unofficial visits to Temple, Villanova, James Madison, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.