EYBL Atlanta: Francis Okoro down to three and closing in on decision
EMERSON, Ga. - Top 50 junior Francis Okoro has had a lot on his mind lately as he works his way toward a college decision and whether he will enroll with the 2018 class or stay in 2019.
The rugged big man is down to Illinois, Oregon and Purdue. After going off for a manly 22 points and 19 rebounds in his Bradley Beal Elite squad's tough loss to Mokan Elite, Okoro said that the first couple of times he was out this spring he didn't play as well as he wanted to while trying to balance playing for his team and performing in front of coaches.
"It's not easy, but I try to do my job," Okoro told Rivals.com. "I was struggling with it a little bit the last two sessions because I was thinking about a lot of stuff. I came to this session knowing that I have to play and that once I'm in the gym I need to focus on basketball and then when I'm away I can think about college stuff.
"I just want to do what I'm supposed to do, because I haven't been playing like who I'm supposed to play like. I have to be active and confident in my game. I'm going to mess up but it's about what I do and how I pick up my teammates and try to win."
Speaking of that college decision, Okoro went over each of his three finalists.
Earlier this spring, Okoro was able to get to Oregon. The official visit was his first trip to Eugene and it left a big impression.
"It was really good," Okoro said. "I got a chance to visit with the strength coach and really see what they do. Coach (Dana) Altman is really a great guy, and he talked a lot about how he needs me regardless of what time I come in. He talked about what I can do and how I could help the team with my activity and my rebounds. He also talked about improving my faceup game, so I like that."
Okoro had already been to Purdue unofficially, but an official visit with Matt Painter's bunch gave him a different perspective.
"The difference with an official was that I got a chance to play with the guys," Okoro said. "That's one thing I really enjoy and appreciate because getting a chance to play with the guys you see how you can fit with the team. You get to see how the point guards play and the relationship you can have with them and if it is a team you adjust to. Coach Painter is really good, too. He talks to me all the time."
Over the last week, there was a lot of talk about whether or not Okoro would visit Illinois. He said it didn't really matter, since he's already quite familiar with campus and the impact Brad Underwood has told him he can make on the interior.
"They don't have an official visit left and I've been there multiple times before," said Okoro. "There's nothing that they can show me that I didn't already see. Coach Underwood is telling me how he really wants me. He texts me every day so I know how he feels."
Armed with pretty much anything he needs to know about his finalists, Okoro just needs to make a decision. He says that it's coming soon, and at least for now he's leaning towards staying in the class of 2019.
"I'm really close to making a decision. Really close," Okoro said. "I'm just trying to talk to my mom and my dad and let them know what I'm trying to do and have them pray for me.
"I'll probably decide within two weeks. Right now I'm still 2019."