By Nick Gibson-Harper |
Standing at 6 feet 8 inches tall with a wingspan wider than 7 inches, Nebraska forward Duby Okeke never imagined he would end up in Lincoln. After finishing up his senior season at Winthrop University, Okeke still had one more year of eligibility left because of a redshirt he picked up his freshman year.
After being recruited by several Division I programs including Clemson, Nevada, and Ball State, Okeke picked the Cornhuskers to finish up his final season. His overall experience was much different than his time at Winthrop.
“It was a different level and a good experience,” Okeke said. “In the Big Ten guys are actually trying to make it to the league. It also gave me a more professional mindset. How to practice everyday, and how to handle the spotlight of being a student-athlete.”
The senior experience that Okeke held also helped him bond and connect with his new teammates at Nebraska. He was well-respected by his fellow teammates because of his dedication and preparation toward the game of basketball.
“Duby is the hardest working teammate I’ve ever played with,” Christian Farmer, Okeke’s teammate, said. “He never let negativity distract him from focusing on becoming a dominant ball player. His focus level is unmatched when working out and getting better in the gym.”
With that dedication, Okeke has also become a student of the game. Some of the players he idolizes are currently where Okeke plans to be and that’s the NBA.
“I like watching Kenneth Faried from the Nuggets, his motor is insane,” Okeke said. “I really enjoy how he picks his spots on the floor. I also like Tristan Thompson because how he anchors and controls the defense.”
Okeke has already had a glimpse of what the NBA would be like by playing in front of thousands at the Pinnacle Bank Arena (PBA). The home crowd is what really made Okeke appreciate the game of basketball itself.
“I really am going to miss the home crowd,” he said. “Here you don’t have to force people to games. When the fans come its almost sold out every game, its one of the best crowds in the country. The loudest I have ever heard the PBA was when we played Kansas during the regular season.”
After spending five years in college with two different programs, Okeke is thankful for the coaches and teammates who molded him into a great player.
Okeke’s next goal is to simply keep playing on the next level, where he can continue to fine-tune his game.
“My future aspirations are to just keep playing. I’m looking to pick up an agent and just go from there. I’m starting to become more comfortable doing more things in basketball.”
Nick Gibson-Harper is a freelance journalist based in West Columbia, S.C.