Goodluck Okonoboh’s recruitment following similar path to that of Noah Vonleh

071113ncxINDIANAPOLIS — Class of 2014 forward Goodluck Okonoboh drew a large contingent of head coaches for his first game of the July evaluation period in the adidas Invitational on Thursday morning.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Ohio State’s Thad Matta and North Carolina State’s Mark Gottfried were among the faces in the crowd.

But none of those schools or coaches have put in the same time with Okonoboh as Indiana, which had Tom Crean and Steve McClain front and center for his July debut. Okonoboh’s AAU coach with Mass Rivals, Vin Pastore, compared the recruitment of his star to that of Noah Vonleh, IU’s top recruit in the 2013 class.

Pastore says Indiana was the first of the “big-time players” to get in with Okonoboh.

“(It’s) like they did with Noah. Early and hot,” Pastore said. “I think they’ve done everything that they did with my other guy. Kenny Johnson is doing a great job as he did with Noah. They recruited Noah all of last summer. As he was starting to blow up, they jumped in right there (with Goodluck). And then they’ve picked it up significantly.”

That should bode well for IU’s chances with the nation’s top shot blocker, who isn’t claiming any favorites at this point or revealing plans for visits in the fall.

“At the end of the summer I’m going to sit down with my family and figure out what’s the best plan,” Okonoboh told reporters after scoring 16 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking 10 shots in a 75-67 win over Indiana Elite.

The increased intention is an adjustment for Okonoboh, who spoke to close to 10 reporters for nearly 15 minutes after his first game.

“It’s been a new thing for him,” Pastore said. “This is all brand new, so he’s doing well with it.”

Okonoboh’s relationship with Vonleh, who he calls a good friend, could also be helpful for the Hoosiers. The two have spent time together this summer at the Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James Skills Academies.

“He’s always in my ear about IU,” Okonoboh said. “The most humble kid you’ll ever meet. He’s one of the top players in the country, but he’s just a great kid. He knows he doesn’t have to talk to me like anybody else would talk to me. We just keep it real with each other.”

“I don’t know how that couldn’t help,” Pastore added. “So I would say the answer to that would be yes (that it helps). Goodluck is his own guy, but when you have a friend that’s already somewhere else and doing well already …”

After being recruited primarily for his defensive prowess early on, Okonoboh has developed significantly as a scoring threat over the past year.

At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 1/2 inch wingspan, he’s added a face-up game and the ability to hit the midrange jump shot, something he didn’t have last summer.

“He didn’t have any of it last year. I think that was the knock on him,” Pastore said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons he’s playing for me. I allow him to shoot the basketball and create. Last summer was the first time he really tried to create any offense.”

To continue his rapid improvement and help him reach his ultimate dream of playing at the next level, finding a program that will help him grow as a player and as a person is a priority for the five-star big man.

Indiana seems to fit both criteria with its recent success in the 2013 NBA Draft and a reputation for graduating players early.

“It’s a developmental program. Was Victor Oladipo even top 100? Now look at him, the No. 2 pick in the draft,” Okonoboh said. “It just shows you from a developmental standpoint, that Indiana is good.”

  • B-TOWNdawgs

    I can’t remember the last time IU has had a dominant shot blocker… Anyone care to help me out?

  • 5_Banners

    I’m not sure if Jeffries or Newton were great shot blockers, but for some reason I remember them blocking shots. DJ White was descent.

    Hoping that Vonleh and some of the recruits will fill that void this year.

    But no one of the caliber of Goodluck…he’s on the level of Anthony Davis.

  • 5_Banners

    Man, the player development card will be beneficial going forward with future recruits. It’s nice that they notice that or that IU’s staff informs the recruits of that ability.

  • Dagwoods

    Dean Garrett wasn’t bad, but I don’t think he was dominant. It seemed like Alan Henderson and Jared Jeffries had their share of blocks, but, at the end of the day, I wasn’t sure if their stats were outstanding.

  • B-TOWNdawgs

    I was thinking of Jared Jeffries too but I guess I should check the stats to see if he really was a top shot blocker, but I’ve seen video of Goodluck before and he has a 6th sense when it comes to weak side shot blocking- great awareness. He would be a huge get for ctc and the crew

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    (To me) I think this guys is a higher priority than Exum for our long term plans.

  • And_One

    I am all about Goodluck. He seems down-to-earth off the court, a good kid. But man! I can’t think of when we had a brute like him on the floor. Maybe Killingsworth? I know, I know, we don’t talk about players from that era as a general rule, but he seems like he could have the same menacing quality.

  • CreamandCrimson

    We’re in very, very good shape with this elite defensive big man. By the time he gets to Indiana, I might not have to put “defensive” in front of elite…he might just be an “elite big man”. I think he fits the way we play incredibly well and he would immediately change our defense because he would allow our perimeter players to be even more aggressive (and we know Tom Crean LOVES deflections!). Of course, very, very good shape means nothing if he ends up going elsewhere. Hopefully we can close the deal. Goodluck CTC and staff.

  • Miamihoosier

    Who else is on his team? They beat Indiana Elite, with Hyron Edwards and Jalen Coleman running the back court….pretty impressive.

  • IUMIKE1

    Steve Downing holds the record for most in a single game pretty sure it was 10. Career blocks leader is Jeff Newton. Pretty sure Dean Garrett holds the # 1 & # 2 spot for most blocks in a season as well as the 1 & 2 spot for most blocks in a single Big Ten season.

    Remembering all of that (if it’s all correct & I think it is) would make marcusgresham proud of me. lol

  • hgdownunder

    He’s saying the same thing to Cliff Alexander.

  • Gregory Spera

    Admittedly, I am a pessimist buy nature. A ‘glass half empty’ kind of guy. But all these articles suggesting how far out in front we are for Exum and Okonoboh make me nervous. There is still a long way to the finish line. I am just going to wait.

  • TorontoHoosierFan

    While Exum would be great, I think he’s going straight to the NBA. Already projected as a top 10 lock, how could you blame him. Okonoboh is critical for us. We have a ton of depth at guard and the wings; he need a beast inside.

  • CrimsonandCreamFraiche

    Off of that team, George Leach was the lefty shot blocker.

  • SCHoosier

    Getting this guy is going to be very tough given all the interest. A key will obviously be NV’s impact..but getting GO to Assembly Hall and the game day environment could be a clincher. Glad to see his coach and family so involved..if distance from home is not an Issue..IU should be well positions at least for now.

  • Hardwood83

    As far as distance all the schools mentioned are in the Midwest or Southeast, so that doesn’t appear to be too big an issue.

  • MPmike

    Dean Garrett 1986-1988
    Alan Henderson 1991-1995
    George Leach 1999-2003

    These were the last players that average around 2 blocks a game during their careers. I believe (Jeff Newton) broke Dean Garrett’s shot block record for a career.

    Correct me, if I’m wrong. I am going by my IU Hoosier memory.

  • bfblog

    There’s no basis for that. He has said several times he expects to go to college. Until he takes other visits, no sense worrying about it. IU or the NBA, can’t do much about it………

  • CreanFaithful

    Whoa there… Noah hasn’t played a game for IU yet. Obviously everyone is excited about Noah. No reason not to be stoked about landing Goodluck too. He is ‘hype’ worthy. 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks in a win over Indiana Elite. 10 BLOCKS! This isn’t anything new. The kid is a monster in the paint.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Isn’t any talk about Noah Vonleh strictly “hype” right now as well? I’m with you, Noah should be a good shot blocker and he should be very good but don’t knock someone for hyping a player that hasn’t performed on the college level yet and then turn around and do the same thing.

  • HoosierTrav

    Cody Zeller was like 215 as an incoming frosh. Noah is 240-ish. Noah has always been bigger than Goodluck. I’m pretty sure And_One meant brute in the sense that he is punishing and a force on the defensive end. The hype is real my friend. Noah is better though. Hoosier Nation has no idea just how good Noah is.

  • Igotthecrabsfromyouthenishaved

    Newton and Leach probably were the last two decent shot blockers out of IU. Jeffries was okay, but it wasn’t his skill set. You’d have to go back to Henderson to really have the last really good 4-year shot blocker, though.

  • HoosierTrav

    I think we can all say Hanner had too much hype. We based our expectations off of his highlights, whereas Goodluck has MONSTER numbers to back the highlight reels. Hanner never put up these kind of numbers. These numbers are extremely significant in terms of how well he will transition into college. Lets assume Coach Jackson’s track record for physical development stays the course…… Okonoboh gains 10-20 lbs between now and stepping foot in assembly hall, while improving strength and athleticism….. He translates into an INSTANT game changer for us defensively and on the offensive boards. If Noah decides to stay one more year (I think he can potentially be the #1 pick in the following years draft) then who will rebound or defend better than us? Dont worry.. I’ll wait.

  • HoosierTrav

    If this kid keeps playing like he is, he is an exact replica of Nerlens Noel but with a more polished offensive game… Not sure we would have him for more than 2 years. Having Exum for one year and going top 3-5 in the draft wont hurt us. It never hurts your team to have a stud like Exum. I think we get too caught up with who’s a priority over who when getting one player isn’t going to hinder the chances of getting another. To me having both is equally important for our long term success. Having Exum improve his own and the university’s visibility by playing one year in Bloomington, then being drafted 3-5, is going to be huge for Crean’s resume. I know we say we would rather not have the one and done’s but i think that is about as silly a position as we could have. Of course we don’t want to have a roster full of them, but that’s not what Crean and Co. are building here. It’s a different business model. One or two one and done’s sprinkled in with some 2-4 year developed MEN can consistently put you in the final four and hang multiple banners.

  • HoosierTrav

    Exum would be making a huge mistake by not coming and improving his visibility in the states. NBA scouts are going to be paying attention to the extremely deep class of 2013 all throughout the college season. He will slide right down their boards. Money is made during the college season. I really feel like he has a chance to go top 2 in the draft following the mass exodus of the 2013 class. Hell… Noah #1 Exum #2…. Take that UK

  • HoosierKen73

    I agree with you bfblog, there is no basis for that, Mr. Toronto… Exum has consistently stated he is going to college in the US for at least one year to get his body ready for the NBA. So I really do tend to believe what he says.. not what Toronto Hoosier Fan thinks about it AND, yes we have depth at guard, but we do not have anyone the caliber of Exum, just yet. Not saying Stan, Devin or Troy might develop into a great number two or three.. But Exum is a pretty special player at least at this point in his development. Also, I haven’t heard anyone say we are “way out in front” on the recruitment of these two guys. In fact, Goodluck has stated emphatically, Indiana is not the favorite…. so who is saying we are way out in front?

  • HoosierKen73

    Hey I would like to see Goodluck in candy stripes as much as anyone.. Just think a statement like, “I can’t remember when I’ve seen a monster like that at IU” is just a little bit overboard… especially in light of Noah actually being bigger, greater wingspan and probably 20 pounds heavier than Goodluck and he’s here right now. yes, we all know he hasn’t played a game yet, but he is enrolled and barring some unforeseen misfortune, he is a whole bunch closer to playing a game in cream and crimson than is GO. Just sayin’… Gosh would love to have them both, but let’s keep it a little bit in perspective at least….vbg…

  • HoosierKen73

    Agree with ya Trav. I took it to mean GO being a ‘monster’ physically.. and Noah is bigger. I think Hoosier nation has a tendency to be low key on Noah.. not sure why. He was duly impressive during his high school career.. and physically he has all the tools… placed third in the 3 point shooting contest at Mickey D’s classic. What’s not to like about that?

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