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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / December 13.
  • Brian Okam to Rutgers

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    Rutgers addressed its need for frontcourt help by securing a verbal commitment from Brian Okam, a raw 7-foot, 245-pound center from Highland Prep School in Orlando, Fla.

    A native of Nigeria, Okam attended Archbishop Carroll in Washington, D.C. and Montrose (Md.) Christian before coming to Highland Park. He is out of high school eligibility because he played in the eighth grade and thus did not compete with Highland Park during the 2008-09 season.

    Okam chose Rutgers over Georgia Tech.

    Highland Park coach Jeff Turner spent 10 years in the NBA with the Nets and Orlando Magic and he and assistant Michael Stewart have been tutoring Okam.

    “Brian is a true back-to-the-basket post player,” Turner wrote in an email. “He has great size and has the frame to get bigger and stronger. He finishes very well around the basket, has good hands and good footwork. I think he will give Rutgers depth on the front line immediately and could emerge as a  major minute guy by his sophomore year if he continues to work hard.”

    Because he wasn’t able to play this year, Turner worked out with the team and the coaches instead.

    “We have a rule in Florida that once you complete the eighth grade, you have four years of athletic eligibility,” Turner wrote. “After reviewing his transcripts, the Florida High School Athletic Association ruled that he had already used his four years. He practiced with us every day and worked individually before and after practice with me and former NBA player Michael Stewart.”

    Turner told the Big East Report that Okam could stand to bulk up and get stronger going forward.

    “His size and physical strength are a big plus,” Turner said. “I think he could add another 20 pounds to his frame! As I said before, he is a true center which, from watching the Big East this season, seems like a must to be competitive. He needs to play to improve which is something he has not had the opportunity to do, unfortunately, but I believe he will improve quickly when he gets that chance. It’s up to him!”

    Turner said Okam has had to work hard on his academics but has grown as a person.

    “As a person, Brian has grown tremendously,” Turner told the Big East Report. “This is the area where I am proudest of him. He has been forced to take a tough academic course load because he was way short of the core credits he needed to be NCAA eligible. He has worked hard in the classroom and will complete the academic year with a 3.5 GPA. No easy feat at our school! I think that has carried over into his work ethic on the court. I don’t think he had been pushed as hard as Michael [Stewart] and I pushed him. He will need to work even harder when he gets to college, but he understands that now and has really improved.”

    Rutgers has two scholarships left and is still seeking a point guard to replace the graduating Anthony Farmer.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.