Onyekaba Emerging On Major D1 Radar

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Ifeanyi Onyekaba capped off a stellar junior season in style, scoring 29 points, pulling down 15 rebounds and totaling five blocks as Virginia Episcopal School (Lynchburg, VA) captured the Virginia Independent Schools Division III state championship with a win over Williamsburg Christian. VES first-year head coach Curtis Staples, a former star guard at the University of Virginia, has high praise for the 6-8, 220-pound power forward.

“He’s just a very fierce competitor,” said Staples. “He’s strong and athletic. He’s 6-8, but he plays so much above the rim. He averaged 21 points and 16 rebounds per game this season. That’s tough to do.”

A native of Abuja, Nigeria, Onyekaba has played organized basketball for only two years. He attended Roanoke Catholic his sophomore year, helping the Celtics to a VIS Division II state semifinal appearance. In last year’s one-point state semifinal loss to Cape Henry Collegiate, Onyekaba had 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

Staples, who saw Onyekaba play at Roanoke Catholic and again on the AAU circuit last year, has witnessed the promising big man’s development.

“He constantly works hard at it,” Staples said. “This is only his second year of basketball, so it’s just incredible how quickly he has picked up the game. The difference between him and other players is that he processes things so quickly. I attribute that to the amount of time he spends studying.”

Recruiting-wise, the word is out on Onyekaba.

“He’s no longer a secret,” Staples says.

ACC schools and a few Big East programs have touched base, and a few programs have stepped up and offered.

“I’m not sure what I can say in terms of offers, but I will say he does have one ACC offer,” Staples said.

The one ACC offer is not from the University of Virginia, but head coach Tony Bennett and company are certainly involved.

“Virginia is more in the evaluation stage,” Staples said. “Jason Williford has watched him play a few times. Coach Bennett watched him a week or so ago. Hopefully, they’ll offer soon.”

Onyekaba has committed to play for Boo Williams’ AAU squad this spring and summer, but Staples says this could change if the