CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Udoka Azubuike is still two years away from playing college basketball, but he’s already one of the hottest recruits in the country.
The native of Nigeria — now playing for a high school in Florida — picked up scholarship offers from Kentucky, Duke and Kansas in a matter of 24 hours earlier this week.
It was a testament to how far his game has come.
“Kentucky offering me a scholarship — I feel great,” Azubuike said. “It feels like all of the hard work I’ve been putting in has paid off. It’s a great experience. Not everybody has the opportunities to get an offer from Kansas, from Kentucky, from Duke. Those are big programs. Everybody knows about them.
“I don’t feel like I’ve made it though. I’m still going to work hard.”
The 6-foot-11 center came to the United States about two and a half years ago. He said he weighed 190 pounds at the time. Now, he’s up to 260 pounds and is one of the most physically imposing players in high school basketball.
Azubuike wants to make sure that size is utilized correctly at the next level.
“I will try to go to a school that fits my system of play,” he said. “I can’t go to a school that just shoots the ball all of the time and doesn’t pass to the big man. I’m going to try and find a school that deals with big men and welcomes big men. That’s the kind of school I like.”
His high school coach — Steve McLaughlin — told the Herald-Leader that Azubuike is an “animal” who tries to dunk on everybody when he’s on the court. That style of play has resulted in comparisons to NBA great Shaquille O’Neal.
Azubuike grinned when asked if he was familiar with Shaq’s game.
“I watched some of his highlights,” he said. “He likes to dunk a lot.”