Onyeka
Okongwu
Position: PF
Height/Weight: 6-9 / 245 lbs
School/Club: USC
Status: Freshman
Birthday: 12/11/2000

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About Onyeka Okongwu

Onyeka Okongwu is a gifted athlete whose improved frame, budding feel inside, and versatility on the defensive end helped him emerged as one of the most intriguing center prospects in college basketball.  Attending Chino Hills High School (CA) where he won one state title alongside the Ball brothers as a freshman before leading the team to two state championship wins while repeating as California Mr. Basketball in 2018 and 2019, Okongwu finished his prep career regarded as one of the top-20 prospects in the class of 2019.  Heading to USC to play for Head Coach Andy Enfield, Okongwu stepped into a significant role at a true freshman starting every game at the center position and finishing as the Trojan’s leading scorer and rebounder.  Averaging 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, he earned All-Pac-12 1st Team honors while gaining considerable momentum ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft.

  • Possessing good size at 6-foot-9 with an above average wingspan and an excellent combination of quickness of leaping ability, Okongwu did a lot of his scoring last season above the rim.  His 245-pound frame has improved significantly over the last two years, but his ability to maximize his frame remains a point of interest against traditional centers at the next level.
     
  • Finishing the year ranked among the most efficient offensive players in college basketball, Okongwu’s athleticism and activity level off the ball made him a productive screener, lob threat, and rebounder.  He also proved extremely effective in the post and shot a solid percentage from the free throw line.  With good hands and budding coordination, he impressed in a role that it is easy to see him playing in the NBA. 
     
  • Showing considerable promise on the defensive end, Okongwu’s physical tools, timing, and effort-level made him a productive shot blocker, but his versatility shined at times as well.  Regularly switching onto guards and holding his own, he has a rapidly developing feel for how to use his tools consistently on the defensive end.

Defensive Analysis

  • Impacting the game in a variety of ways defensively with his ability to block shots, rebound out of his area, and move his feet on the perimeter, Okongwu flashed significant upside last season and played with steady intensity.  Able to challenge shots by virtue of his length and leaping ability, but also rotating early and using verticality well, he has some terrific building blocks as a rim protector.
     
  • Mobile enough to slide with many guards on the perimeter and cover the pick and roll in a variety of ways, Okongwu was regularly crossmatched last season.  Even so, he spent much of his time defending the post where he allowed 0.82 points per post up possession [52nd percentile] as he held his own this season, but is still learning how to deal with bruising traditional centers with elite size.


Career Highlights

  • 2019-20 All-Pac-12 First Team and All-Freshman Team selection.
  • Selected to the 10-man 2019-20 USBWA All-District IX Team.
  • Set a USC freshman record with 76 blocked shots.
  • Won three California state championships at Chino Hills.

Freshman (2019-20)

  • Averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.71 blocks.
  • Ranked ninth in D-I and second in the Pac-12 in blocks per game.
  • Finished 11th in the country and first in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage (61.6).
  • Among qualified freshmen nationally, ranked first in blocks, fourth in field goal percentage, eighth in rebounds and ninth in scoring.
  • Had 11 double-doubles, including five 20-point, 10-rebound efforts.
  • Set single-game Pac-12 season highs in both free throws made (17) and attempts (21) vs. Pepperdine (Nov. 19).
  • Tied the USC single-game record with eight blocks in his collegiate debut against Florida A&M (Nov. 9).

High school

  • Averaged 27.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists as a senior to lead Chino Hills to a state championship.
  • Named California "Mr. Basketball” as a junior and senior.

Strengths

  • Intriguing blend of size, athleticism, skill and motor.
  • Very active in the paint at both ends.
  • Elite rim protector with great timing.
  • Skill level continues to improve.

Personal

  • High school teammate of Lonzo and LaMelo Ball at Chino Hills for a portion of his career.
  • Wears No. 21 to honor his older brother, Nnamdi, who died after a skateboarding accident in 2014. Nnamdi wore 21 in high school.
  • Mother, Kate, is a registered nurse who moved to the United States from Nigeria in 1999.

 Quotable

“It’s very difficult as a freshman to average 16 and eight on a team that wins 22 games. He did that. He just has the natural ability to affect the game without scoring, which is quite a thing as a freshman. His energy and his rebounding and his shot blocking, the way he ran the floor, was really fun to watch.”

- USC coach Andy Enfield