There are a bevy of prospects around the country that are really missing out on their opportunity to blow up due to COVID-19 effectively closing the door on all travel basketball for the foreseeable future. One of those guys is Chisom Okpara, a 2022 forward from Vermont Academy and The New York Rens EYBL.
Okpara is a unique prospect due to his two way versatility and ability to produce against the highest level of competition. Between playing on the EYBl and in the NEPSAC, Okpara has shown no fear in who he plays, and no hesitation in what he does on the court. We’re talking about a high motor wing forward that impacts the game in a variety of ways.
As a sophomore at Vermont Academy, Okpara averaged 16 PPG and 7 RPG while getting to the line over 7 times per contest. He was named ALL NEPSAC AAA honorable mention as a sophomore, an achievement that shouldn’t go understated due to the strength of that league on a national scale. He played up on 16u last summer with The Rens and was slated to play 17u this summer. Okpara also boasts a 3.8 GPA, making him a high level academic prospect as well.
I had the chance to catch up with Okpara on his recruitment, what it’s like playing in the NEPSAC, and much more.
MM: You play in the NEPSAC and on the EYBL, how do you think playing against the best competition in the summer and during the school year has helped you become a better player?
CO: It helped me tremendously. It showed me what I need to work on, it showed me my strengths and it helped me get some confidence to play at the next level.
MM: Recruitment wise, who has extended scholarship offers your way and what other schools are keeping close contact during this quarantine period?
CO: I currently have offers from Providence, Depaul, UMass, and Yale. Some other schools reaching out have been UVA, Seton Hall, Oregon, Marquette, Northwestern, Stanford, Arizona State, Clemson, Ohio State, and a couple more.
MM: What have you been doing to stay busy during quarantine?
CO: I’ve been running twice a day and doing zoom workouts with my school and with another trainer of mine. I’m also outside a lot cause I have a hoop outside so I’m just shooting all day. I use a stationary bike to keep my cardio up as well.
MM: Phenom Hoops is really based in North Carolina and South Carolina, for some of our readers and maybe coaches in this region that don’t know your game, how would you describe your game and what’s the next step you see yourself taking in your development?
CO: My game is kind of along the lines of Giannis. His playmaking and glass cleaning ability is something I look at. I like to rebound and push the ball. The one thing I’m working on right now is improving my shooting, making my 3 point shot more consistent and shooting off the dribble.
MM: What’s your favorite thing about being part of the NY Rens program?
CO: Probably the exposure and the connections. Our coaching staff from 15u-17u, they’re all great coaches and they know a bunch of people. The Rens name itself will genuinely help get your name out there.
MM: What’s the biggest thing you’re looking for at the next level outside of basketball? Really from an academic and campus culture perspective.
CO: A place where I’m comfortable, a place where I can grow my people skills, and a good balance between basketball and school.
MM: How much of a night to night battle is the NEPSAC?
CO: Ahhhh, the NEPSAC. The NEPSAC is really tough, I think it’s one of the best leagues in the country. The amount of preparation we do and the amount of film we do to prepare each and every night. We do a lot of yoga and focus on our bodies more than most teams around the country. It’s the standard.
MM: How bad are you missing travel ball right now?
CO: I’m missing it a lot. I felt like I was prepared to have a really good season but now it’s gone unfortunately.
There’s no doubt that this summer would’ve benefited Okpara tremendously as he continues to stay on that upward trajectory as a prospect. At 6’8 with the agility to guard multiple positions, and the skillset to impact the game in a variety of ways, Okpara should see his recruitment really start to pop in the next 6-12 months.