High School Sports

High School Sports

Opinion: Ottawa’s Ojeleye a star

March 1, 2013


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.


bballwizard 5 years, 2 months ago

Why do you think KU did not recruit and why did they miss the kid at Kentucky. The kid at Kentucky is a projected top 15 pick. Is it because our coaches are from not around here so they dont recruit these local kids becasue they think this area is weak for bball??

Also I have stood next to shimmy and he is 6 6 tops.

Jayhawks64 5 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, those dumb KU coaches must have had their eyes closed when they drove through Ottawa to Burlington to sign Tyrel Reed. Obviously, they took the turnpike to Wichita to sign Perry Ellis. They're so bad at recruiting that they only have the first or second rated class for next season. Come on, Wizard...lighten up.

riverdrifter 5 years, 2 months ago

Semi wanted to go to Duke all the way andd there was no changing his mind. I don't know about the other kid.

windjammer 5 years, 2 months ago

Do you know Semi? Have you talked to Semi and his parents? If not what makes you such a expert and know it all on his and his parents thought process?

William Weissbeck 5 years, 2 months ago

In that respect, it's probably his AAU and high school coaches that planted the ideas. Gone are the days when your loyalty to old State U was the driving force. Odd as it seems, the start of the UCLA dynasty had two Kansas kids in the starting line-ups. A kid from Topeka on the '64 and '65 teams, and Lucius Allen from Wyandotte? on the Alcindor teams. Sometimes, it's the education perception that drives some of these kids. Just be thankful that Harvard, Yale and Stanford don't have BB powerhouses.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

It should also be noted that his position, small forward, is already going to be filled by Wayne Seldon, who is rated higher in the ESPN 100.

I tend to trust our recruiting process. They're rational people making calculated decisions, and if they're not pursuing somebody in their own backyard, there's probably a real reason for it, whether we know it or not.

My guess is the kid wanted to get away from home and/or get out of Kansas. As a Kansas transplant living 2 hours south of Durham, I can't blame him.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

Where's that list from? Brannen Green is listed as an SG, and Seldon is SF, and Seldon is currently number 12 v. Green number 43.


kujayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

I hope the kid does well, but declaring a D-I signee that went 7-16 against Eudora might be a little premature.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

At this point, I'd say I'm somewhat cynical at the notion that many in the top 100 are going to get a degree out of their time in school. I kind of consider most of them to be pursuing an internship for the NBA.

But there was a whole inch of snow an hour north of me two weekends ago, which was apparently cataclysmic in scale, to judge by all the cars run off the road and the totally over-turned semi truck I saw on my north to Richmond.

I don't miss snow at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

Without a doubt, it's all about style. Duke's trademarked shade of blue looks better on him than KU's.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

Ha, that's GOT to be something to see in a High School game.

Robert Sailler 5 years, 2 months ago

Congrats to Semi on an outstanding season and career. Maybe this will be the year the Cyclones take the state crown, but Highland Park will be a huge obstacle.

sleepy33 5 years, 2 months ago

snort The day KU has a reputation for a 'thug environment' is the day I will eat my national championship t-shirt with a knife and fork. Laughable statement.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

Another notable comment by havecents:

(re camo uniforms): "Yeah Bailey, They'd work at KState and 99% of Kansas, just not on Snob Hill where a pattern for our nations military is looked down upon."

You sound like an unbiased source who's judgment we can trust implicitly.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

When premise is questionable, repeat at louder volume.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

He said fact, woh oh oh oh!
cue the bass lick

If you can't trust the facts of an anonymous internet hater, who can you trust?

sleepy33 5 years, 2 months ago

KRichards is absolutely correct. Players buying marijuana for their own personal use no more constitutes participating in a 'drug ring' than you buying a bottle of aspirin at Walgreen's. If you are the end user of the product, then it's not a drug ring, by its very definition. AND, if you think that some athletes at every university from elite D1 programs down to the tiniest JUCO teams are not now and have not for the last 40+ years bought and smoked their fair share of weed, then you are living in a fantasy world, my friend.

bballwizard 5 years, 2 months ago

Original Bob is like that annoying little snot nosed kid down the street that always needs to get the last word in. How. Did an honest question about how we missed two top recruits in our own bad yard bring out all the haters???? Rock Chalk Haters!!'!!!

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