Onyeka Okongwu is a 2020 NBA Draft prospect who played one season for the University of South Carolina. However, Okongwu was one of the most accomplished high school players in California basketball history. He is one of only five men to win California Mr. Basketball for two consecutive years.
Okongwu played for the Chino Hills High School Team alongside all three Ball brothers. That means he was teammates with projected top-three pick LaMelo Ball and his brothers Lonzo Ball (guard for New Orleans Pelicans), and LiAngelo Ball.
Okongwu’s brother, Nnamdi Okongwu, suffered a brain injury in a skateboarding accident in 2014. After three days, Nnamdi would pass. Onyeka still wears a number 21 jersey to honor his brother.
Okongwu would commit to the Trojans after picking them over Arizona State and the University of California. He was easily the best player on his college team, ending the season with honors like First-Team All-Pac-12. The NCAA Tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Okongwu can play both the power forward and center role effectively. He was a dominant two-way threat in the NCCA. He was an elite shot-blocker and had more than average offensive production. His physical gifts would suggest a relatively high ceiling for him.
|Birth Date||December 11, 2000|
|Place of Birth||Chino Hills, California|
|High School||Chino Hills High School|
|University||University of Southern California|
Okongwu does have a fair amount of limitations. His physicality versus NBA bigs may not be as effective. Along with that, Okongwu looks uncomfortable dribbling the ball and isn’t a very adept passer. Most of his movements can come off as mechanical at times. However, he is a great reader of space and can disrupt defensive schemes with his high potential as a roller.
There would be a fair amount of question marks around Okongwu, but if the team that selects him puts him with a good point guard and help him develop the weak aspects of his game, he could be a long-term threat in the NBA.
Okongwu displayed his versatility in college with the numbers that he put up. Outside assist, Okongwu was decent in every statistical category. Averaging almost 3 blocks and a steal shows how valuable he could be to any team’s defense. His three-point shooting needs work, as the shot line is farther out in the NBA.
Okongwu is definitely going to end up as a lottery-pick. Considering he has shown a willingness to shoot, dribble, and pass, teams will hope that he can work on those glaring weaknesses and further add to his strengths. His defensive potential is tantalizing for any of the teams in the lottery. If they had good defense, they wouldn’t be in the lottery.
While he is a little undersized at the 5, the future of the NBA looks to be small-ball. His added mobility will allow him to switch and guard almost four positions, while also being able to catch opposing defenders off-guard. However, there is also a question of how durable his body is to be a center in the NBA.
Teams like the Boston Celtics are heavily interested in getting their hands on Okongwu, but that may mean trading up the lottery to get their hands on their center for the future.
Okongwu is yet to list any professional income from his basketball career. College athletes aren’t allowed to make money off their name, and Okongwu is yet to receive any publicly disclosed professional sponsorship or endorsement. He is yet to get a shoe deal either.
His net worth will be based on where he gets drafted, which will determine his contract. If he goes in the lottery, the least he can get is a $3 million contract for each season. He will also get a stipend from 2K for his likeness in the current NBA 2K21 game.
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