Onyeka Okongwu had an excellent season in his one year at USC, earning First Team All-Pac 12 honors while averaging a 16.2 PPG / 8.6 RPG / 2.7 BPG line and leading USC to a 22-9 record, good for third in the conference. He also had an especially decorated high school career at Chino Hills, partnering with the Ball boys for a state title as a freshman, and earning California's Mr. Basketball honor as both a junior and a senior on the way to two more state titles.
Okongwu has good but not great size for a big at 6'9" and 245 pounds, but his consistent production and strong intangibles have him positioned to be a top ten pick in this year's draft. Our model agrees:
- Our model gave Okongwu a sterling 99/100 grade as a defender. He was impressive across the board on the defensive end, posting strong numbers in blocks (3.2 per 36, 85th percentile for bigs), steals (1.4 per 36, 83rd percentile for bigs), and Defensive BPM (8.0, 95th percentile). Okongwu should be a major net positive as a rim protector and a team defender from day one.
- He was a highly efficient scorer, posting a 65% True Shooting (83rd percentile for bigs). This was a core driver for his strong grades as both a scorer (80/100) and on offense overall (81/100) in our model. Okongwu is a player who tries to dunk everything he possibly can, which certainly bodes well for his field goal percentage.
- His rebounding grade, 86/100, is actually quite mediocre for a big, putting him in just the 61st percentile in our database
- On the flip side, his shooting grade, 11/100, is very low upon first glance. It does, however, land him in the 34th percentile for bigs, and his free throw percentage of 72% as well as shots he hit off the catch this year give hope that he can improve here and become a pick and pop threat.
Okongwu, similar to Tyrese Haliburton, is a virtual lock to have a productive NBA career at minimum. He's going to be a great defender, and will be an effective rim runner right away. Defensively he can also stay with players on the perimeter much better than most bigs due to his good athleticism and long wingspan (7'1"), so won't be played off the floor easily. If his shot improves, and I think it will based on the flashes he's shown and his reputation as a high character prospect, we could be looking at a mini-KAT on offense in the future.
Okongwu has high similarity scores in our model to a few other recent top picks you may have heard of: 94% with KAT, 89% with Joel Embiid, and 88% with AD, and he rates as 93%+ similar with all three players in terms of skills alone. If he was two inches taller, I think he'd be a lock for the #1 pick. I think he should be anyway.
- Our Comp: Alonzo Mourning
- Suggested Draft Range: #1 Overall Pick
- Immediate Impact: High (good defender and rim runner)
- Long Term Potential: High (All-Star and All-Defense teams, 20 PPG / 9 RPG / 3 BPG)