ESPN 60 big man Onyeka Okongwu announced his commitment to USC on Monday during a ceremony at Chino Hills School.
Why he committed: Okongwu’s decision had come to be widely expected. USC had not only prioritized him from an early age and had him on campus several times but they also appealed to his desire to stay close to home while playing an immediately significant role. While Okongwu has had the opportunity to build relationships with head coach Andy Enfield as well as other members of the staff over the years, the recent addition of assistant coach Eric Mobley only further solidified USC’s chances.
Mobley is the father of fellow ESPN 60 big man Isaiah Mobley as well as 2020 forward Evan Mobley. The Mobley brothers team with Okongwu on the Compton Magic, a program that the elder Mobley previously coached with.
What he brings: Okongwu is a broadly built big man with long arms and a strong body. He’s an elite interior defender who both protects the rim as a weak-side shot-blocker and also rebounds the ball in high volume.
His offense, which has been farther behind, is now starting to catch up. He makes good use of his wide frame on the block, understands how to seal to score, and can get easy baskets both by going to the offensive glass as well as by running the floor. He’s beginning to stretch his range as well and is now a scoring threat out to 12-15 feet. He plays the game with a high motor on both ends of the floor and is known to be a worker so there’s a high likelihood that he’s only going to continue to improve in coming years.
How the class is shaping up: While Okongwu is technically the first player to verbally commit to USC, Isaiah Mobley is expected to follow suit in the very near future. Being able to pair those two five-star big men would give the Trojans one of the best potential interior tandems in the Class of 2019, and certainly on the West Coast. That group follows an incoming freshman class that includes a trio of ESPN 100 products in Elijah Weaver, Kevin Porter and J'Raan Brooks as Enfield has been able to grow USC’s recruiting profile at a rapid rate in recent years on both a regional and national level.
How he fits: With Okongwu, Brooks and almost certainly Mobley now in the fold, it’s clear that USC will be playing with a more traditional two-big lineup in future years. While Brooks is more of a classic four-man, Okongwu is more of a prototypical center at the moment. Mobley is the most versatile of the group and the piece that will allow Enfield to play any two of the three together at any given time.
As Okongwu continues to expand his game and prove his defensive mobility away from the basket, it will only make them more versatile as a collective trio in terms of getting out in the open floor and exploring mismatches in the half-court set.
Who he reminds us of: He’s like a cross between Corliss Williamson and Buck Williams. Physically, his height, strength and style of game are similar to what Williams used to bring during his days with the Portland Trail Blazers as he would defend, rebound, and provide solid offensive contributions from 15 feet and in.
Okongwu’s body type though, albeit a couple of inches taller, is reminiscent of Williamson, who used his broad shoulders and wide mid-section to create a lot of space during his playing days at Arkansas to score and rebound inside.