Okeke finishes high school career on positive note
Published 1:20 pm, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Considering Sunday Okeke had played little basketball before arriving on the campus of Greens Farms Academy in 2013, the learning curve was always going to be steep.
There were many ups and downs in that timeframe. Foul trouble, injuries and simply learning the game resulted in inconsistency, even if the box score read that he averaged a double-double in his sleep with his big frame.
But the 6-foot-8 took a big step down the stretch of his senior year. More explosive than ever and fully healed from a wrist injury suffered early this season, Okeke was completely unguardable.
Healthy, experienced and hungry for success, Okeke realized much of his untapped potential in the postseason. In six playoff games--three in the FAA and three in New England Class C, Okeke averaged 22.3 points and 17.3 rebounds per contest. He also had a pair of 10-block games in the stretch, which ended with a pair of runners-up trophies.
“He just got healthy,” said Dragons coach Doug Scott. “He literally couldn’t catch or rebound; he was just kind of pretending for a while out there. When that got better, all of a sudden you saw the real Sunday.”
The real Sunday — who will head to Wake Forest to play for the Demon Deacons upon graduating — was devastating. He shot 70 percent from the field in his last five games, including a 9-for-11 effort against St. Luke’s in the Class C final Sunday at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
Okeke averaged 15.4 points and 14.1 rebounds per game for the season on 63 percent shooting. Though he didn’t miss a great number of games with ailments during his career, he was clearly bothered by a myriad of injuries despite tallying more than 1,200 points and 1,200 rebounds. The transformed player of the postseason in 2017 likely would have arrived earlier if not for misfortune.
“It got delayed by injuries those middle two years,” Scott said. “So now you’re starting to see where he might have been a year ago, but he’s heading towards greatness.”
But it’s here now and the momentum may continue to Winston Salem. Okeke projects as more of an outside threat at the next level, a skill set that’s worked on in the offseason.
“He’s obviously got the NBA body, but when he showed up and started working as hard as he could, not just on his game but his academics,” Scott said. “You add those two elements together and you get greatness.”