North Carolina Top 80 Player Introductions
There have been numerous instances where young players undergo a stage or period of swift progression or physical growth. Guys like Anthony Davis or Scottie Pippen are a few of the most successful examples in history, but Keeyan Itejere is someone who has undergone a similar spike within the past twelve months. Although those names can be unfair comparisons, it would be foolish to ignore Itejere’s growth and remaining upside. He burst onto the scene last summer with UC27 Dream Chasers, frequently dominating in convincing fashion and highlighting flashes of potential greatness. Shortly thereafter, Itejere decided to transfer from Research Triangle Park to join future Wake Forest-signee Jaylon Gibson at GRACE Christian.
Anyone who is blessed with elite size/height is typically seen as someone with an advantage. Although being taller can open up opportunities, Itejere hasn’t really received special treatment or a superior basketball experience. Let’s reiterate, this young man was at a tiny school (within a massive city) where basketball wasn’t even a priority and had received little to no attention prior to last summer. After just two months in summer ball, it was already becoming glaringly obvious that Itejere was truly just beginning to scratch the surface and would be a prospect worth noting for the foreseeable future. There were murmurings about a potential reclassification upon joining GRACE Christian, which would’ve almost undoubtedly vault him into high-major territory. However, between his family and academics, Itejere ultimately decided to remain in the Class of 2021 and began collecting Division I offers anyway.
It was evident within the first week of transferring that Itejere was only going to continue trending upward. He and Gibson combined to form one of the most unique frontcourt pairings across North Carolina, highlighting raw athleticism, defensive destruction, and flashes of inside-out switchability. They quietly became must-see entertainment and, despite some team struggles, were an incredibly exciting duo throughout the season. Itejere seemed to get better each time he stepped on the court. His current impact should have all types of programs buzzing but there’s a realistic scenario where Itejere will simply continue to get better and better.
In regards to his on-court identity, Itejere is a long, explosive forward prospect with rapid development over the last calendar year, going from a run-and-jump guy to a legitimate two-way player. His combination of size, motor, and defensive instincts allows him to regularly create havoc for the opposition. He’s an excellent weak-side shot-blocker with the ability to step out and reliably defend the perimeter or force turnovers by jumping into passing lanes. Itejere is the first person to get on the floor or sacrifice his body for extra possessions and has the presence of mind to work to be the first man down the floor. On top of maintaining his defensive IQ and overall presence, Itejere has grown taller while starting to harness his offensive skillset. Although he still hunts for any dunking opportunities, Itejere has added a lot since last summer. He now can effectively put the ball on the floor, attack the basket against bigger opponents, reliably post up on either block, knock down the occasional jumper, and set up others with quality passes from inside or outside the paint.