Finding a Fit for Duby Okeke
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Finding a Fit for Duby Okeke

April 24, 2017

On Sunday, Nebrasketball picked up its second commitment of the weekend as Winthrop graduate transfer big man Duby Okeke (Due-Bee OH-KAY-KAY) announced that he will be spending his final year of eligibility in Lincoln.

Okeke is a 6-foot-8, 230-pound center from Jonesboro, Georgia who has played the last three seasons with Winthrop. Okeke’s stat-line doesn’t exactly jump off the page: 4.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game for his career. He’s cracked double digits in points in just eight of his 94 career games with a career-high of 13.

Okeke has limited range offensively and shot 43.4 percent from the free-throw line for his career. He has also dealt with multiple injuries throughout his career, which is something to be worried about.

Ed Morrow Jr.’s departure was a blow to the team’s overall talent, physicality and front-court depth, and Okeke is certainly not Ed Morrow Jr.

However, I do believe he is a reasonable facsimile of what Morrow may have provided for the Huskers, and in that regard he is an important addition. Okeke is an undersized big man with explosive athleticism, limited offensive range and injury concerns. Sound familiar?

The comparison admittedly isn’t perfect. Morrow is more capable at scoring and a better rebounder on both ends of the floor. However, Okeke has one skill that leans in his favor and it is one Nebraska could really use: rim protection.

Last season, Okeke blocked 47 shots in 461 minutes. For his career, Morrow has blocked 48 shots in 973 minutes. Okeke became Winthrop’s all-time leading shot-blocker in less than three seasons, and he did so while playing less than 15 minutes per game.

Okeke understands his game and doesn’t try to play too much outside of himself, shooting 60 percent or better from the field all three seasons at Winthrop. He is an explosive leaper who will try to dunk everything around the rim.

Tim Miles absolutely needed frontcourt help, and he chose to spend one of his three open scholarships on Okeke. At this late stage, the likelihood of landing a true difference-making transfer big was unlikely, so finding a big body that can fit a role and bring a reliable skill to the table was a good move and that’s what they did.

Okeke will likely be slotted behind Jordy Tshimanga as the team’s back-up center and will be relied upon to come in when Tshimanga either needs a breather or gets in foul trouble and to block shots, rebound and finish plays around the basket. Only time will tell if Okeke is capable of doing that at a high enough level against Big Ten competition, but perhaps in this case the bird in the hand was better than two in the bush.

The Huskers are not done yet, however. Even with the commitments of Thomas Allen and Okeke, Nebraska still has two open scholarships to play with.

Updated Scholarship Depth Chart
PG: Glynn Watson Jr.
SG: James Palmer Jr., Evan Taylor, Anton Gill, Thomas Allen
SF: Jack McVeigh, Isaiah Roby, Nana Akenten
PF: Isaac Copeland
C: Jordy Tshimanga, Duby Okeke

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