There comes a time when hearing about something just isn’t enough anymore. You have to go see for yourself.
That time arrived Thursday night, time for a drive south to watch the giant sharing a small high school gymnasium with boys. Man, does the finally completed Highway 59 addition ever make the drive a whole lot smoother.
Duke signee Semi (pronounced “shimmy,” like the dance from the ’60s) Ojeleye was not difficult to pick out of the layup line. He was the 6-foot-8 one, with the soft shot that barely moved the net. Built like a tight end, handles the ball like a point guard, slides his feet like a guard on defense, rips rebounds at the rim, a foot above all the other arms, makes all of his free throws.
And shoots pretty much every time he touches the ball.
In leading the Cyclones to a 51-42, 4A sub-state semifinal victory against scrappy Eudora, Ojeleye totaled 25 points and 13 rebounds. He made 7 of 16 field-goal attempts (all in the first three quarters), 1 of 4 three-pointers and 10 of 10 free throws.
He really does look to score nearly every possession, but before labeling him selfish, consider his coach’s wishes.
“He’s obviously our first option,” Ottawa coach Jon McKowen said. “He shoots it 43 percent from the three-point line, so we want him to shoot any chance he gets.”
Even when tightly guarded from beyond the three-point arc?
“Even guarded,” McKowen said. “With that height, he really shoots it well whether he’s guarded or not, as long as his feet are behind the three-point line, and if he gets it inside. Obviously, if they step up, we want to dump it inside to somebody for a layup. But he’s so strong and athletic he’s a good option inside too. If anything, I feel he’s too unselfish at times. You know, late in the game, moving it around when the ball should stay in his hands. To score 40 points (a game) you have to shoot once in awhile.”
How does Ojeleye define a good shot?
“Something in rhythm,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take those shots. You just have to take them when they come. It might not look good to some people. Some shots are bad shots and you just shoot them. That’s why you play the game.”
Next season, all his teammates will be former high school superstars. Will his definition change?
“Yeah, obviously,” Ojeleye said. “Once your role changes, the definition of a good shot changes.”
He’s doing what he’s told now and will continue to do the same playing for legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Ojeleye’s ceiling is so high that Eudora’s 5-5 freshman Grant Elston might want to remember a play he made Thursday. Ojeleye ripped a rebound and Elston reached up and ripped it out of his hands. And if Ojeleye’s beautiful bounce pass from the point on a fastbreak to Dallas Natt wasn’t the play of the game, then it was Elston’s steal.