FSU lands highest rated center recruit since 2007

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On Monday, before FSU’s 75-67 win over Minnesota, one of the top bigmen in the country made his collegiate choice.

Ikechukwu ‘Ikey’ Obiagu, a four star center out of Greenforest Christian Academy, has committed to the Seminoles. Obiagu is ranked by ESPN as the 42nd overall prospect in the 2017 class and the #9 ranked center prospect. He selected FSU over offers from Arizona, Baylor, Louisville, Maryland and Virginia, among others.

With the commitment of Obiagu, The Noles have likely filled the final piece of this year’s recruiting puzzle. Florida State signed 4* forward RaiQuan Gray, 4*  forward Wyatt Wilkes, 4* guard Anthony Polite and 3* guard Bryan Trimble during the early signing period in November. FSU will likely finish with a top-20 recruiting class during the 2017 cycle. 

Obiagu is one of the best shot-blockers in the entire country. He uses his length and athleticism to send shots flying. His defensive instincts and awareness are top notch. He shows off the ability to close out and contest on perimeter shooters. Obiagu also has great defensive timing, knowing exactly when to launch out of his stance to block a shot back into the stands.

His offense however, still needs some refinement. Obiago is beginning to develop a low post game, and having a go-to move offensively is important for him as he heads into college. Despite the fact that he sometimes has a hard time scoring consistently, Obiago is an excellent offensive rebounder. He works himself into prime position in the paint and is able to gather himself quickly upon grabbing rebounds for athletic putback dunks. I project him to be a shot blocking big from day one at FSU, with the chance to develop into something special with some work on the offensive end. He’s definitely way farther along than Bojo, Ojo or Koumadje were at this stage of their careers. Obiago is the kind of vital commitment the Noles needed to close out their class, this is a big win for the program.

He fits Leonard Hamilton’s system perfectly. Hamilton will be able to place Obiagu around the rim on defense, like he already does with Ojo and Koumadje, where he’ll instantly become one of top-two shot blockers on the Seminole’s roster next season. Obiago will most likely be competing with Big K for the starting center spot next year.

It’s easy to recognize that Obiagu is quite the physical specimen. He stands at 7-1, while weighing around 240 pounds. If he follows through with the commitment, Obiagu will be FSU’s highest rated center signee since Solomon Alabi (33rd overall by ESPN) back in 2007.  This is a big get for a Seminole program that has not recruited the center position particularly well for years.

After signing Xavier Gibson in 2008, the last four star center that came to FSU from high school, it seemed like the Noles began to struggle when it came to recruiting bigmen. They failed to sign a center in 2009, but were able to nab two high profile JUCO players in Bernard James and Jon Kreft in 2010. James and Kreft would both go on to be impact players on the 2011 team that made the Sweet 16 and the 2012 team that won the ACC Championship. In 2011, FSU signed Kiel Turpin, another JUCO transfer.

With James and Kreft graduating after 2012, The Seminoles were once again in the hunt for frontcourt players. After failing to land a big name prospect, FSU was forced to take on two centers that would need development. One, Boris Bojanovsky, needed to put on some weight and strength, while Michael Ojo was in his first few years of playing basketball. Over the next few seasons, the Seminoles predictably struggled in the frontcourt while failing to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Noles showed they were talented during the 2013-2014 season, but they were left out of the NCAA tournament again after going 19-13 during the regular season. Florida State would instead be selected for the NIT Tournament, where they made the semifinals before falling to Minnesota. After the season, the Seminoles would lose F Okaro White and F Robert Gilchrist, and back to the recruiting trail they went. Leonard Hamilton secured a commitment from center Norbertas Giga, a player out of Lithuania, to help fill the holes in the frontcourt. Hamilton would also make a splash by earning the commitment of 4* F Phil Cofer later in the cycle.

Alas, Giga did not academically qualify to FSU, and he would head over to Tallahassee Community College. At TCC, he got into some trouble with the law and it was apparent he would probably never play for the Noles. Giga now plays for the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, and it sounds like he has gotten his career back on track, which is awesome for him.

Another miss on the recruiting trail hurt the Seminoles, and in 2014-2015 the team finished with a mere 17-16 record. They were led by Xavier-Rathan Mayes who had a breakout year, and unfortunately Aaron Thomas left midseason to go play overseas. Ojo and Bojanovsky averaged a combined 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. In comparison, true freshman and four star recruit Phil Cofer averaged 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The two developing centers simply weren’t ready for the caliber of competition that they had to face, whilst the blue chip recruit in Cofer was.  

In 2015, Florida State was finally able to land their first center recruit since 2012. Christ Koumadje, a 7-4 bigman out of Montverde Academy, became the tallest player in FSU basketball history. Big K had a nice low post game, but he was very slim and needed to put on some weight before he could truly be utilized. Now in his sophomore season, Big K has added around 20 pounds, and he’ll need to continue to try and put on weight as he advances in his career. Koumadje is averaging 5.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while playing around 12 minutes per game.

This commitment sets FSU up for success in the future, Hamilton has landed a few nice recruiting classes in a row, and it’s going to start paying off. You can already see the difference in this years team from last years, the talent is on the way up. FSU basketball is back to trending upwards.

One Comment

  1. vecomicsporno.com

    May 3, 2017 at 10:52 PM

    The Crimson Tide landed 21 recruits from the ESPN 300 rankings, giving them the No. 1 overall class for the fifth time in six years, while USC started and ended the day on a roll.

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