Cassell Coliseum

Cassell Coliseum, where Virginia Tech home basketball games take place, June 20, 2017. 

Tech got its second recruit in three days, this time in 6-foot-10 center John Ojiako from Saint Petersburg, Florida, that makes him the fourth commit in the Mike Young era as reported by Rivals. Ojiako is also the third recruit in the class to reclassify from the 2020 class to the 2019 class for the Hokies, something that’s paid off big as the Hokies look to fill the roster after numerous departures following Buzz Williams’ acceptance of the Texas A&M head coaching position.

Ojiako, a three-star athlete according to 247sports, is a rather inexperienced basketball player after picking up the game after just his sophomore year of high school, leaving him with a lot of room to improve.

“I used most of my sophomore year to understand the game and workout with my coaches to get better,” Ojiako told Prep Hoops a year ago. “My game improved during the AAU season because I got to play a lot of games. This helped me gain tons of experience and face good competition.”

With Kerry Blackshear’s decision to either stay at Tech or transfer elsewhere looming, the move to pick up a young big man seems appropriate at this time in case Tech loses out on Blackshear’s services.

With just Branden Johnson and P.J. Horne as the only two bigs currently on the roster, it was crucial to bring in some extra bodies in the frontcourt, a position the Hokies have struggled to add depth to in recent seasons.

What the Hokies get in Ojiako

Ojiako is an interesting prospect whose development is hard to gauge at this point in his young career. Having only played the sport for just a few seasons, it’s easy to spot aspects of his game that need more development, particularly his shooting and distributing ability inside the paint. While he displays some nifty moves in the post and around the rim, I wouldn’t expect Ojiako to be much of a contributor in that field early in his collegiate career. Being such a raw talent gives me the impression that he can develop a scoring touch with time, but as of right now it’s too early to say what kind of scoring option he’ll become in a few years.

Where Ojiako does flourish is his rebounding ability and his defensive game. Ojiako is a fantastic athlete with great size that allows him to win on the boards even if he’s being outmuscled by a bigger matchup. He times his blocks incredibly well for someone so new to the game as well. I’d expect to see Ojiako find a lot of minutes off the bench for his rim-protecting alone if Blackshear does not return.

While Tech’s frontcourt looks to be one of the weaker areas on the team due to inexperience and an overall lack of depth, Ojiako’s development will be worth keeping an eye on. As far as player comparisons go, he has a similar skillset to former UNC center John Henson when he was a freshman. Defensive prowess and fantastic athleticism were Henson’s best attributes as a young center, but it took him a few years of experience before he really developed much of a scoring ability. I expect a similar career trajectory for Ojiako with the Hokies.

Sports Editor

Robby Fletcher is a Junior Multimedia Journalism major with interests in sports, food, big words and movies. He really wants you to read his work.

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