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New incoming, hopefully, Okpala

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#61 » by DrHeat » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:42 pm

Has anybody seen this article from the Undefeated... Damn this kid has a 4.4 GPA!! I guess being smart can only help..


KZ Okpala could make rare decision to leave Stanford early for NBA
The projected first-round pick is getting the ‘best of both worlds’ in college

BY MARC J. SPEARS
@MARCJSPEARSESPN

STANFORD, Calif. — Stanford University’s athletics department takes pride in its motto: “Stanford … not a four-year decision. But a lifetime decision.” But for Stanford sophomore forward KZ Okpala, it could be the rare two-year decision on his way to the NBA.

Okpala said his Nigerian immigrant parents were ecstatic their son was attending Stanford, primarily for the education. But the 6-foot-9-inch forward is also pursuing his NBA dream.

“It’s the best of both worlds coming into Stanford,” Okpala told The Undefeated. “I love playing at a high level, but my parents love academics. Just to please them, and I love school, but I still wanted to play at a high level. It’s the Pac-12 and in the West Coast where I come from.”

Okpala committed to Stanford before his senior year of high school after growing to 6 feet, 8 inches from his freshman height of 5 feet, 10 inches. He had a 4.4 GPA at Anaheim Esperanza High, according to the Los Angeles Times, and led Esperanza to its first California Interscholastic Federation Division II title (and also a win over Duke star Zion Williamson’s high school team). ESPN ranked him the 42nd-best player in the Class of 2017.

Now a college sophomore, Okpala has excelled in basketball while managing the academic challenge during his two years at Stanford. He is averaging a team-high 18 points as well as 5.8 rebounds and two assists per game this season. He is also shooting 36.9 percent from the 3-point line and was named a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award.

But soon Okpala will have to decide if it’s time to put his education on hold. The 19-year-old is a projected first-round pick in this year’s NBA draft.

Only two Stanford players have left for the NBA before their junior seasons: the 7-foot twin brothers Brook and Robin Lopez, who were the 10th and 15th picks overall, respectively, in the 2010 draft after each playing two seasons for the Cardinal.

NBA scouts told The Undefeated that they expect Okpala to be a top-20 pick.

“He’s a really good player who can be really good in the future,” one NBA scout said. “He has all the measurables: height, wingspan, athleticism. He can shoot, pass and dribble. He can defend multiple positions, whether it’s a point guard or a forward. Once he gets his shot ready out to 3, he is more valuable on this level.”

Said another NBA scout: “He will be an NBA starter or key reserve one day if he keeps working.”

Another NBA scout saw Okpala as a late first- or early second-round prospect but thought he should return for his junior season.

“He has positional height and length and has the look of an NBA player,” the scout said. “He needs to develop his game to go with his look. Someone may take a flier on him because of his height and length. He’s not an amazing athlete, but he’s 6-9, can play small forward and is very long.”

Okpala credits his offseason workouts for his success this season after averaging 10 points per game as a freshman.

“I made a commitment to myself around this time last year that I was going to go all-in and put my eggs in one basket,” Okpala said. “Every day working out three times a day. Eating right. Lifting weights. Doing all the little things. Getting sleep. Drinking water. All the little things.

“I didn’t think I put in a lot of attention my freshman year, and I still got a little bit of attention. I was like, ‘What if I really go all-in here?’ ”

Stanford has produced 30 NBA players, including four current players: Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez, Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell and Washington Wizards guard Chasson Randle.

Former NBA guard Brevin Knight, who played four years at Stanford, believes no Stanford player should depart early unless he is a projected top-10 pick or his family is in financial need. (Okpala’s family wouldn’t fit that mold, as his father is an engineer and his mother is a lawyer, a source said.)

“If you’re able to get into Stanford, academics was important to you or a necessary evil to an end,” Knight said. “A lot of kids who get a chance to go there, basketball is a love of yours but you have something else going. The NBA is something that is attainable from Stanford. But what if you get your degree at Stanford and go to the NBA? It’s the best of both worlds: You can play with the best players in the world and be amongst the movers and shakers of the world.

“I went to Stanford to make connections. I didn’t go there to make the NBA. It just so happened I ended up making it to the NBA.”

Okpala said the NBA has been a dream of his since he was 7 years old. If he tests the waters by entering June’s NBA draft, an NBA scout said he would very likely get an invitation to the pre-draft camp in May in Chicago, where he could interview and work out for teams. How Okpala fares in the pre-draft camp could ultimately influence his decision to return to Stanford or not.

A source close to Okpala said he is currently undecided but the source wouldn’t be surprised if Okpala ultimately enters the draft and keeps his name in it. Okpala, however, is focusing on finishing the season strong.

“Whatever happens after the season with whatever I decide, I don’t think about it right now. Right now, I am just focusing on my teammates,” Okpala said.

Okpala is holding out hope that the Cardinal (15-15) can win the Pac-12 tournament to earn an NCAA tournament bid. Stanford plays in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament against UCLA on Wednesday.

“There has never been a game where you’re like, ‘Oh, we are about to get smacked,’ ” Okpala said of dealing with losing this season. “That’s one thing. Every game I know there is a chance. I know there is a good chance.”

The odds might be stacked against Stanford making it to the Big Dance, but don’t bet against Okpala’s future.
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#62 » by twix2500 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:49 pm

Bishop45 wrote:
greg4012 wrote:Honest question seeking input and discussion: What makes Sekou a perceived superior prospect to KZ Okpala?


I wouldn't say superior, I had him ahead of KZ, but probably not as high as many other ppl had him (like 8th, 9th best prospect)

Mostly just his SZ and athleticism, corollary to his defensive potential. But little known prospects tend to have their stock inflated simply by the fact of the unknown. KZ could easily have as much or more upside;

-Good Rebounder
-Good driver
-Great contact initiator
-Decent shooter
-Good first step

His frame is the largest question mark on him, but it shouldn't be an issue. For all the reasons I just stated, he could easily play the 3 and consign Rich back to his natural position. I like Okpala more as a 4, but relative to playing Rich at the 3, I would more than welcome him at SF


I agree with this 100%. Sucks that he cant start practicing with the Summer League Team until July 6th. KZ is a project but I do not think he is as big of a project as Sekou. But again I do not know much of these Euro players. I think KZ may be more developed than Sekou. I look at him at the level of a project as Bam. Difference being Bam was more fundamentally sound but less skilled and KZ being less fundamentally sound but much more skilled. Both have great frames, Bam was much more physically in shape than KZ. KZ much more aggressive and Bam being passive.

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#63 » by Dr_Heat » Mon Jun 24, 2019 3:50 pm

Smart kid , hopefully he becomes an all star in this league
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#64 » by twix2500 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:03 pm

BBallFreak wrote:
twix2500 wrote:Here's the thing, Heat are still trying to trade off some of the team. So JJ and Mion will get minutes early

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They probably would, anyway, tbh. I just want our rookies to surpass them (or replace them, should Riley find a taker).

I would love to see what a lineup of:

Winslow
Herro
Richardson
Okpala
Adebayo

Can do together if those two new guys can develop. It could be a very potent and talented lineup. Just need one of those guys to step into the lead dog role and put the team on his back...
I think the draft selections was definitely with the idea of replacing those two. Both Herro and KZ ball handling, passing and shooting needs to be up to par before they are ready. If JJ looks like he did last year, then I definitely see KZ getting a look

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#65 » by BBallFreak » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:41 pm

twix2500 wrote:
BBallFreak wrote:
twix2500 wrote:Here's the thing, Heat are still trying to trade off some of the team. So JJ and Mion will get minutes early

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They probably would, anyway, tbh. I just want our rookies to surpass them (or replace them, should Riley find a taker).

I would love to see what a lineup of:

Winslow
Herro
Richardson
Okpala
Adebayo

Can do together if those two new guys can develop. It could be a very potent and talented lineup. Just need one of those guys to step into the lead dog role and put the team on his back...
I think the draft selections was definitely with the idea of replacing those two. Both Herro and KZ ball handling, passing and shooting needs to be up to par before they are ready. If JJ looks like he did last year, then I definitely see KZ getting a look

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It's a lonnnnnngggg season. He'll get a look if he can display anything at all in practice. It's just a matter of what he does with it when he gets that look. Contrary to popular belief around here, I don't think Spo hates younger players. I just think he hates losing. So if a younger player earns a look, he's going to get it (like Hassan Whiteside when he first joined the team, like J-Rich, Winslow, Bam, DJJ, and McGruder). It's just a matter of how well he handles that look. I'm hopeful with both these picks. Okpala is long and has a lot of NBA skills that we can work with. It should be interesting to see how far he goes...
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#66 » by JustiseForMiami » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:01 pm



not sure if this has been posted but at :15 seconds look at what he does to Nassir Little. That is an NBA level defender and an NBA level move.

Works his way down, catch, face, rip through, bucket.

Im so pumped
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#67 » by JustiseForMiami » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:07 pm




One from HS where he scores 46 on Shareef O'Neal (who was an NBA prospect pre-medical stuff)

Also, looks like this was before his growth spurt too - can get more of a gauge for his shooting form. He looks 6'3-4 here




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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#68 » by twix2500 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:40 pm

JustiseForMiami wrote:


One from HS where he scores 46 on Shareef O'Neal (who was an NBA prospect pre-medical stuff)

Also, looks like this was before his growth spurt too - can get more of a gauge for his shooting form. He looks 6'3-4 here
I think his shooting form will be the first thing they work on. Players with long arms tend to struggle with their form. I think they try to mimic other people location where they hold the ball. I think players with long arms should hold the ball higher than normal. Embrace their length and use it as advantage. Similar to how Louis King shoots.

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#69 » by BFRESH44 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:26 pm

Intriguing

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#70 » by Wiltside » Sat Jun 29, 2019 1:08 pm

Still think he looks more like a 4 than a 3, but hopefully he can sharpen his ball handling and outside shooting to be a big wing too.
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#71 » by greg4012 » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:32 pm

Wiltside wrote:Still think he looks more like a 4 than a 3, but hopefully he can sharpen his ball handling and outside shooting to be a big wing too.


Some guys are labeled combo forwards when they're really tweeners that don't quite have the requisite skillset or athleticism for either SF or PF. Some are labeled combo forwards because they can actually succeed at both SF and PF. I'm hopeful that KZ is the latter. He has the length to be a modern PF and the athleticism and perimeter skillset to be a SF. I think his handling is up to par already and his shooting shows promise but needs tweaking and refinement. I'm confident he will fill out his frame and become pretty strong, which will definitely help with his interior game and ability to play the 4.

This dude has A LOT of tools and upside to develop. With the right approach and coaching he can become a major steal IMO
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#72 » by Bishop45 » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:39 pm

I do wonder what position he'll play this year, if at all. Might be a little too small for the 4 rn, outside of the fact that JJ/Kelly might usurp all the 4 mins

If he does play the 3, he'll have plenty of opportunity to pick up mins, but will have to try to clean up his handle. I can imagine Spo turning him into a 6'9 McGruder
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#73 » by BIRDMAN BIRDMAN » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:48 am

Future star. Book it.
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#74 » by zgope1 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:22 am

Very intriguing prospect to me. Great size, has an offensive game already with his great footwork and pivoting in the key.

His jumper looks low and angled but also smooth. It’ll need work but it reminds me of Josh’s. If worked the right way can become a very good shooter not just an open shot maker. We’ll see.

If he puts the work in on that and his defence he has better than Ariza potential. Maybe better than Covington. Somewhere a bit below PG maybe.

High floor though in a position of need in the league. Love it. Will take time but I’ll enjoy the show
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#75 » by KingDavid » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:55 am

BFRESH44 wrote:Intriguing


Whoaaaaa wait...don't laugh at me too hard please, but flashes from this clip remind me of Paul George. He uses a lot of hesitation and changes speed. He needs to work on ball handling asap. His shooting form, just in this clip, it's eerily similar too.

Not too sure about his speed.
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#76 » by Bishop45 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:39 am

Player comps should be met with universal anathema
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#77 » by DayofMourning » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:21 pm

Bishop45 wrote:Player comps should be met with universal anathema


:lol:

This post reminds me of a sesquipedalic version of Mos_Heat.
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#78 » by Bishop45 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 5:13 pm

DayofMourning wrote:
Bishop45 wrote:Player comps should be met with universal anathema


:lol:

This post reminds me of a sesquipedalic version of Mos_Heat.


That's all I am to you ppl? How's anathema sesquipedalian?

Mos should join me on my hate quest of player comps anyhow. it's awful
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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#79 » by KingDavid » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:00 pm

Bishop45 wrote:Player comps should be met with universal anathema

It's just a few things. He's like a slow, poor dribbling PG. So not PG. But has a few of his moves and rhythm.

The reason why he can't be PG is his speed. He doesn't have PG's burst when he changes speed or direction. This video is what I'm talking about.

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Re: New incoming, hopefully, Okpala 

Post#80 » by Zasterror » Sun Jun 30, 2019 6:50 pm

If he gets his body right, this guy has potential. He looks a tad bit sluggish especially on the dribble but he has the ability to be force at getting at the rim.

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