Goodluck Okonoboh on shot blocking: “It’s an art”

  • 07/15/2013 11:52 am in


INDIANAPOLIS — Mass Rivals coach Vin Pastore doesn’t hesitate when he’s asked about the defensive prowess of his star big man, Goodluck Okonoboh.

If there’s a better shot blocker in the country than Okonoboh, who is being courted heavily by many of the nation’s top programs including Indiana, Pastore has yet to see him.

“He’s the best shot blocker in the country and he protects the basket better than anybody, I think that’s a given,” Pastore said. “He’s 6-10 with a 7-3.5″ wing span, but he’s got impeccable timing. That’s a gift from God. He’s got great instincts. Natural instincts.”

Those instincts were on display on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the 2013 adidas Invitational as Okonoboh swatted away countless shots and showed off an improving offensive game.

His face up game is already strong and he’s working to get better with his back to the basket in the post, but the shot blocking remains Okonoboh’s staple and has become a point of pride for the rising senior.

“If a guy scores on me, that’s kind of taking my manhood away,” Okonoboh said. “We were at LeBron James camp and LeBron said that and that just kind of stuck with me. It’s true. If a guy scores on me, he can go back home, look up my videos and say, ‘yeah, I scored on him’. That’s why I take so much pride in my defense. I’m not letting another guy think he can score on me.”

In Indianapolis, not many guys scored on Okonoboh. He challenged shots on the perimeter. He blocked shots coming over as a help defender. And those who chose to go right at him usually had their shot denied.

Like most elite shot blockers, Okonoboh does two things that help set him apart. The first is keeping many of the shots he turns away in play, which allows him team to quickly get out on the break. He also has great body control, which helps him limit picking up fouls when leaving his feet.

“Shot blocking is just like scoring, it’s an art,” he said. “You’ve just got to know your timing and it’s all about patience.”

In the opening game of the event for Mass Rivals, he blocked 10 shots and as the game moved on, it was clear that Indiana Elite was becoming tentative with the ball around the basket.

“Guys kind of know and they kind of wait until I’m away to come to the rack,” Okonoboh said. “And when they come, they start doing all of these pump fakes so I kind of know when I’m not getting a lot of blocks, they know the game plan.”

If a shot is within reach, Okonoboh believes he can block it. Pastore said the thought of trying to reign him never crosses his mind.

“No way, I let him go,” Pastore said, smiling. “As long as he goes and wins games, there’s nothing you can do. He wins games for you.”

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  • SCHoosier

    guG is a talent..why does it bother me that in 3 interviews I’ve heard him give he’s mentioned Duke first when he lists the schools interest in him. Guess I’m being overly sensitive?

  • HoosierTrav

    I think you are right. He seems really excited by the Duke offer. It’s gonna be hard to snag some guys when going head to head against Coach K. I cant wait until he retires. Hopefully the Lakers offer him 20 Million/year after they fire D’Antoni 5 games into next season.

  • CousinDonuts

    Who was on that Indiana Elite roster, the guys getting blocked?

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    Goodluck Okonoboh on shot blocking: β€œIt’s an art”

    Actually, I was hoping his answer would be “It’s an addiction”, to be followed up with a confession that he’s obsessed with continually blocking stuff like people throwing away balled-up documents, grocery workers putting things on high shelves, etc.

    You know, sort of like Mutumbo’s Geico commercial. πŸ˜‰

    But hey, good enough. If he comes to IU, we’ll take it, no problem. πŸ˜€

  • Candy Striped Kid

    Derrick Nix thinks Goodluck Okonohoh is overrated

  • E Foy McNaughton

    Funny comment!!!! Coach K is too good for the Lakers though….


    As bad as I want Exum, and I want him badly, I think this young man helps us more overall and if it comes down to, either or, I think the smart money says take this guy.

    And that is a statement in itself when one stops and thinks how talented Exum is ! If we happen to land both of them a whole lot of other people, especially in the B1G, are gonna be telling Noah Vonleh how good he is and that he is wwaaayyy ready for the NBA, whether it’s true or not. lol

  • Remy Willing and Abell

    I’ve heard him mention IU first in a interview and then came back and said good things bout Crean . I REALLY hope we get this kid . We need a dominant big man to go with Luke and Noah . Trey Lyle is out , So let’s hope Noah is in his ear .

  • SCHoosier

    anybody know if Nix got an NBA try out ?

  • Rie

    Exum is a top 3-5 NBA prospect for this next draft… Goodluck would be fortunate to crack the first round. So while I would love to have him and he would be an amazing addition to this team, Dante is, and should be, the top priority for 2014.


    Didn’t mean for it sound like I thought that Exum wasn’t the higher ranked recruit or the the more talented guy. Don’t get me wrong I want Exum, and in a bad way, but IMHO in the overall and extended big picture of IU bball I think that Goodluck is more of a help to IU. While Exum would more than likely be better than anybody that we have at the 1 or 2, we are also a lot deeper in quality players at those two positions compared to the overall depth that we have at the position(s) that Goodluck would play and the number of players that excel at the same things that Goodluck does. Let’s just hope that this is a moot point of discussion & we get them both. If we are lucky enough to get them both, Vonleh stays and the others turn out to be as good as we think they will CTC will have to see if our sneaker sponsor makes a shoe that doubles as butt kicking shoes as well as bball shoes. lol