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Posted On: 05/17/18 5:19 PM
CHINO HILLS – Onyeka Okongwu’s announcement Monday that he plans to sign a national letter of intent with Coach Andy Enfield’s USC program was just the first of what are likely dividends from the hiring of Eric Mobley as a member of the Trojans’ coaching staff.
The 6-foot-9 Okongwu, who led Chino Hills High to the California State Division I championship last March, is the No. 1 prospect – regardless of class – on the west coast.
He’s also a member of the Compton Magic club program – as are Mobley’s sons, 6-11 sophomore Evan Mobley and 6-10 junior Isaiah Mobley of Rancho Christian High in Temecula.
Eric Mobley, who played college basketball at the University of Portland and Cal Poly Pomona, was most recently the girls varsity coach at Rancho Christian but also has extensive experience as a club program coach (including with the Compton Magic).
Okongwu didn’t figure to stray too far from home with college, with UCLA (which a teammate during his freshman season, guard Lonzo Ball of the Lakers, attended as a freshman), Arizona State and Washington also mentioned prominently as potential schools for him.
Okongwu’s relationship with the Mobley family, no doubt, played a significant role in his decision to opt for the Trojans, for whom he will be a freshman during the 2019-2020.
Eric Mobley’s sons are expected to end up at USC as well, with Isaiah Mobley likely the next highly touted prospect to commit to the Trojans before too long.
Okongwu was a key element – a much-underrated, in some circles, part of the team’s success – in the Huskies’ 35-0 run to a California Open Division title and “national championship” (as “mythical” as such a title is with no true NCAA-style playoff on the national high school level) – during the 2015-16 season.
Even with Lonzo Ball’s brother (Gelo and Melo) getting the bulk of the shots – and social media attention – the 2016-17 season was one in which Okongwu expanded on the “glimpses” of exceptional play at both ends of the floor that he demonstrated as a freshman.
And then he kicked it up a couple of notches, at both ends of the floor, this past season as a junior.
By mid-January, he was clearly the best high school player in the west – regardless of class – even when his teams were coming out on the short end of the score to very good teams such as Etiwanda (twice, in the Baseline League) and to Mater Dei (in the Nike Extravaganza).
As a freshman and a sophomore, most of his scoring came via transition opportunities, second shots and jump shots.
But, with as the focal point of the team’s offense under new coach Dennis Latimore as a junior, Okongwu showed how difficult a chore it is to guard him straight up when he catches the ball in the low post.
And, another part of his offense that was unveiled was how well he passes from either the low or high posts.
By the time he wraps up his prep career next March, Okongwu will be rated among the very best of the “big men” to come out of the west in a long time.