Recruiting expert: Duke, Ojeleye natural fit

Semi Ojeleye is sharp in classroom, on court

lkeeley@newsobserver.comSeptember 12, 2012 

Semi Ojeleye, Ottawa (March 13, 2012)

BO RADER — The Wichita Eagle

Last Thursday, just a few days before the college recruiting season began in earnest, Jon McKowen gave a book to his star player, Semi Ojeleye.

The book, “Pro Shooting Secrets,” is about 150 pages. Ojeleye took it without saying much.

“I was telling someone else about it (Monday), and Semi came over and said, ‘It really works, listen to what he’s saying,’” McKowen said. “And I said, ‘You’ve already read it?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, I couldn’t put it down.’

“That’s just the kind of person he is,” said McKowen, who coaches Ojeleye at Ottawa (Kan.) High School. “If you ask him to do something, he does it. There’s never a complaint or an argument or excuse. He’s got calculus classes and two science classes. He’s a 4.0 student in the classroom. He puts in a lot of time there, but you ask him to either do something a little extra and it’s no big deal, it’s just what he does for a coach or an adult he respects, or even a peer.”

Ojeleye (whose first name is pronounced Shem-ee), a 6-foot-6, 215-pound power forward, committed to Duke on Sunday night after an in-home visit from Mike Krzyzewski. He is the second 2013 recruit for the Blue Devils, joining Matt Jones, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from DeSoto, Texas. Counting Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood, who will be eligible to play in 2013, Duke now has added three players capable of playing on the wing.

Ojeleye is ranked No. 30 in his class by Rivals.com. He plays all five positions for his high school team and figures to play shooting guard or small forward at Duke.

As a junior, Ojeleye led Ottawa to the 4A state championship game, scoring 32 of its 52 points in the loss.

“I think what Duke really likes about Semi is the fact that he is a consistent offensive threat, a guy who works on his game and off the floor; he just fits from a character standpoint and a work ethic standpoint,” said ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep, who added that Ojeleye has a college-ready body. “It was an easy recruit for Mike Krzyzewski because Semi’s family shares a lot of the same values that Mike Krzyzewski believes in, and sometimes things are just that easy of a match.”

The son of Nigerian immigrants, Ojeleye also has an older brother, Victor, who played basketball at Kansas State. An accounting and finance double major, Victor was selected from 600 candidates for the 2012 Arthur Ashe award, which is given annually to a student-athlete of color who maintains at least a 3.2 GPA and is active in the community.

As a freshman and sophomore, teams aimed to force Ojeleye to shoot outside to keep him away from the rim, McKowen said. Last year, the focus turned to preventing him from taking an open shot.

“He gets the most out of his body both with strength and athleticism and has developed himself into a really, really good shooter,” he said. “He’s just excited that he has that opportunity and that he’s blessed with being able to become a Blue Devil after this year.”

Keeley: 919-829-4556

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