Josh Okogie flew under the radar, but now he’s becoming one of the best players in the ACC

first_img Published on January 30, 2018 at 10:49 pm Contact Michael: mmcclear@syr.edu | @MikeJMcCleary Teams didn’t know what to expect from Josh Okogie. In the summer before his freshman year of college, when Okogie just was starting to work out with his new team, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner noticed a different side that no one had really seen.Before Okogie arrived at GT, Pastner knew that he had gotten a player that could develop into a force in the ACC, but Pastner was only starting to realize that he wouldn’t have to wait too long.“You can tell that he had a chance,” Pastner said. “I had said by the time he was a junior he’d be all-ACC.”But even that was too small an estimate of his ability.When Syracuse (15-6, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) plays at Georgia Tech (10-11, 3-5) on Wednesday night, the Orange will be tasked with stopping one of the toughest assignments in the conference. Okogie’s ability to do everything has helped him thrive at Georgia Tech much faster than anyone expected. He ranks either first or second on his team, per game, in points (18.3), rebounds (6.2), steals (1.5) and blocks (1.2).AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut his dominance only recently reached the public eye. Pastner is among the few to see the potential Okogie had as a high major talent, but even the head coach’s estimate had tempered expectations.“I didn’t even expect me to do that,” Okogie said. “So I doubt (Pastner) did.”Okogie does a lot of the things that don’t show up in the stat book. He describes his game as “not too flashy” and isn’t the person who finds himself as the star of a highlight reel by crossing people over and providing plays that wow audiences.Despite never having the “ooh, ah” plays that makes it easier for the players to generate buzz around their name, Okogie said, he’s always been a player who “gets the job done.”“Anything you need,” Okogie said. “I could do it.”For years, nobody saw that. It wasn’t until his junior year in high school that colleges started to take notice of the stocky 6-foot-4 guard’s abilities. Still, recruiters never went all in. At that time, Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner saw Okogie’s potential to thrive at a high-major school while others didn’t.In Okogie’s freshman year at GT, he burst onto the scene, scoring 16.1 points per game and grabbing 5.4 rebounds. His excellence in rebounding, which Okogie says is the best attribute of his game, is part of the thing that makes him so potent at the guard position.He said he puts a lot of pressure on himself to provide all he can when he’s on the floor and often doesn’t think he does enough.“When people say I played a good game I’ll say, ‘Alright, thank you,’” Okogie said. “But there’s always room for improvement.”That self-pressure extends to the sidelines. During Okogie’s absence earlier this season, while an NCAA violation suspension and then injury kept him out, he said he acted as a “coach,” trying to keep his teammates active.Now back in the lineup, Okogie has assumed the responsibility of a vocal leader on the floor, informing his teammates of a defensive set and being loud. He acts as a spark plug on the offensive end by grabbing the ball off the rim and pushing forward to promote fast play in transition.Okogie’s work ethic on the boards, combined with his “point guard skills,” ESPN College Basketball Analyst Seth Goldberg said, allows him to create for himself easily in the open floor. He compares Okogie’s big, physical game at the guard position to that of current Syracuse assistant coach Adrian Autry from his time in the Orange uniform.“He’s that kind of kid who’s evaluated up,” Goldberg said. “He’s going to be better than his rating.”Scout.com recruiting expert Evan Daniels said he sees no parallel between Okogie’s less flashy game and him flying under the radar during the recruiting process. He said the biggest thing that prevented Okogie from nearing the top of his lists was his fear that Okogie would struggle to shoot the ball.This season, though, after making wholesale improvements to his game, Okogie is shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.Daniels said he didn’t see Okogie making the impact he’s had at the high major level, certainly not as quickly as the now-sophomore did.“I think he’s one of those guys who got lost in the shuffle,” Daniels said.Against Syracuse, the Yellow Jackets will continue to lean heavily on Okogie’s production. As he does every game, Okogie welcomes the challenge of being his team’s go-to guy for his struggling GT team and the Yellow Jackets expect the production he’s brought since first stepping on campus to continue.“When he’s not playing well it makes it really hard for us,” Pastner said. “He needs to be really good for us the minute he gets on the floor.”When Okogie faces off against Syracuse Wednesday, he can’t be overlooked. Not anymore. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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Women’s lacrosse falls in NCAA quarterfinals

first_imgThe women’s lacrosse team’s undefeated season came to a screeching halt on Saturday with a 12-11 overtime loss to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals at the Carrier Dome in New York, ending the Trojans’ season in heartbreaking fashion.The Women of Troy (20-1) rallied from a 3-goal deficit with under six minutes to play in regulation to force overtime, only to have Syracuse junior Kelly Cross score the game-winner with three minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the first overtime session. Cross took a pass from Halle Majorana and buried it from point-blank to send the Orange (19-5) to their fifth consecutive semifinals appearance in the NCAA tournament.It was a back-and-forth first half that ended with the score deadlocked 5-5. The Trojans scored the first two goals of the second half on tallies by senior midfielder Amanda Johansen and junior attacker Cynthia Del Core. But the Orange went on a 3-0 run, with two goals by Majorana to give her a hat trick in the second half and Syracuse a 8-7 advantage.Johansen equalized with her fourth goal of the game, but the Orange connected on three straight goals once again over the next five minutes to give them an 11-8 lead. Still, the Trojans swung the pendulum back in their favor with the next two goals, and Del Core equalized with under two minutes remaining as she took a feed from Johansen across the middle and fired it in.Johansen, who was all over the place in the game, had a chance to win it in the dying seconds as she dodged left and attacked the net aggressively, but was stopped by the glove of Syracuse goaltender Allie Murray.In overtime, a turnover by junior attacker Kylie Drexel handed possession to the Orange, who called timeout and set up the game-winning goal by Cross.The Women of Troy had been perfect in 1-goal games this season, though this was the first time they played a game that went to overtime. They are now 0-4 all-time in overtime games. The 12 goals was the most allowed by USC this season. USC defeated Stanford handily in the second round of the NCAA Tournament before running into Syracuse.The loss is a bittersweet end to a historic season for the fifth-ranked women’s lacrosse team, which won all 17 regular season games for the first time in its four-year history and cruised through the MPSF Tournament.Junior attacker Michaela Michael moved into second place in MPSF history for single-season goals after scoring her 68th goal of the season in the loss. The 99 points she scored on the season are also a USC record and fifth in MPSF history.last_img read more

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