SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The pool of available big men in the class of 2012 isn't the deepest. However, there are still a few guys out there and Centereach (N.Y.) Our Savior New American's Christopher Obekpa is stepping it up at the right time.
Sunday at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Mass. The 6-foot-8 shot rejector had head coaches from Connecticut, St. John's and Cincinnati among others on hand to watch him.
However, according to Our Savior assistant coach Eric Jaklitsch, Obekpa is still in evaluation mode as the native Nigerian looks to grow more familiar with American basketball and college programs.
"He doesn't know what he wants to do yet," Jaklitsch said. "He's just trying to figure out the process and enjoy it. He doesn't know all of these schools like your typical American kids do. Nothing's been set yet."
A strong athlete with a wiry frame, Obekpa is very quick off the floor and possesses superior instincts as a rebounder and kid who blocks shots all over the place. He's also learned about how hard he has to play on a regular basis.
"The biggest thing with him was that he didn't understand how hard you have to play," Jaklitsch said. "Then really last spring on the EYBL circuit, then at the Nike Skills Academies and out in Vegas with New Heights, he really started to explode.
"Now, Chris plays every single possession like it's his last."
Though he's been called raw on the offensive end of the floor, Obekpa has a very nice-looking shot and is light on his feet. It's just a matter of learning footwork for him. In the meantime, what he does translates to the next level and he's likely going to be moving up from his current spot of No. 105 in the 2012 Rivals150.
"He loves to block shots and he loves to rebound," Jaklitsch said. "He works hard, he has a 7-foot-5 wingspan and offensively he's better than he's been given credit for."
In addition to the head coaches that watched him on Sunday, Obekpa has been getting attention from Providence, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Florida, Texas, West Virginia - all of which had assistants on hand - along with interest from Georgia Tech and Kentucky, DePaul and Seton Hall.
So far, the big man has been on the campuses of Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Georgia Tech. According to Jaklitsch, Obekpa will take official visits. But it's a matter of finding weekends that work out and the visit process will likely have to wait until the spring.
For now, it's all about continuing to develop the emerging big man.
"The thing is that he's only been playing for three or four years," Jaklitsch said. "He's working with a basketball trainer every day to pick things up and is coming along."