Semi Automatic: The Semi Ojeleye Interview

6'6" Semi Ojeleye, Photo by Andrew Slater

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore is not an act, but a habit.

-Aristotle

Semi Ojeleye was born in Overland Park, Kansas and his family’s tale is one of the American Dream. His father, Victor, arrived in Kansas from Nigeria, looking to do an internship and residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Ojeleye now operates as a family physician in Ottawa, Kansas, roughly fifty miles south of Kansas City, Kansas, with his wife, Joy, a registered nurse.

 

The Ojeleyes had two boys, Victor and Semi. Victor, the oldest, was heavily involved in community service, became Ottawa High School’s all-time leading scorer, and was valedictorian of his graduating class. After not receiving much basketball interest coming out of Ottawa high school, he opted to do a postgraduate year in North Carolina, where he played under veteran coach, Chris Chaney. It was there that then Kansas St.  assistant coach, Dalonte Hill spotted the 6’5″ Ojeleye and ultimately convinced him to walk-on for his home state Kansas State Wildcats. Victor wound up being a reserve player for the Wildcats, led his teammates in Bible studies, and was an All-Academic Big XII winner in each of his three seasons, culminating in this season’s inaugural Dr. Loge Award for the Big XII Conference’s highest academic honor. This May, he will receive his degree in Finance and Accounting before joining Koch Industries.

 

Semi Ojeleye was blessed with the same genetics and work ethic as Victor. He’s been a 4.0 student, but will shatter Victor’s basketball records for the Ottawa Cyclones. The 6’6″ wing averaged nearly nine rebounds and thirty-three points per game this season, never scoring below twenty-five in a single game, while leading Ottawa (KS) to a third consecutive Class 4A State Title game. The high water scoring mark for this season came when he knocked down eight three-pointers and hit all ten of his free throws for a  fifty point game and a win in front of Missouri Coach Frank Haith.

 

This season, Semi, a devout Christian, played all five positions for Coach Jon McKowen’s Cyclones and knocked down seventy-eight three pointers at nearly a forty percent clip on the season. In the state semi-final game, Ojeyele grabbed fourteen rebounds and scored thirty-two points. In, ultimately, a close 56-52 loss to Basehor-Linwood in the Championship game, Ojeleye, who has tried to slowly convert himself from more of a post player to a perimeter force, scored thirty-two points and snagged twelve rebounds. For his efforts, the 6’6″ junior, who now has 1,811 career points and helped his team to a 24-2 final record, earned an All-State distinction.

 

This AAU season, Semi, who would like to major in engineering, will once again compete with Mo-Kan Elite on Nike’s EYBL circuit. The past two weekends, at least one Duke coach has observed his playing. This weekend, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski watched the versatile wing play in person. He is scheduled to visit UCLA and Wisconsin, the first high-major school to offer him a scholarship, in the coming months, but is hoping that his play this AAU season will garner more interest beyond the primary Big XII and Pac-Twelve options.

 Semi spoke with me after a close EYBL game about a variety of issues.
 
 
 
 
Let’s start with your background. 
 
My parents are from Nigeria, but I was born here.
 
 
In Kansas
 
Yeah, in Overland Park. My father came over to be a doctor.
 
 
Oh, well, congratulations.
 
Thank you.
 
 
Were you in a bit of a zone that day when you had the fifty point game?
 
Oh, yeah, my teammates got me involved and I just had my stroke that day. I just thank God because it was just one of those times when everything just clicked. 
 
 
Last year, I thought you had more of an inside game than an outside. Do you feel like you’ve expanded your game and developed more of a mid-range game?
 
Well, I’m 6’6.” So, I’m not going to play center at the next level and I felt like I had to adjust. I feel like I’m going to become a guard. So, I felt like I had to develop more guard skills. So, I had to work on my handling and my shooting a lot.
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And have you improved?
 
Yes, I feel like I have.
 
 
Academically, I heard you were a 4.0 student. Obviously, your father is a doctor, so genetically, you should be a good student.
 
(laughs) Yeah, I take pride in my work and my academics. I want to have something that I can fall back on, because I know how difficult it is to make it to the professionals.
 
 
Your older brother is at Kansas State. What advice has he given you about going through this process?
 
Yeah, he’s been a good big brother to me. He’s gone through the whole thing and he’s taught me how much more physical it is and how rigorous it is and how I have to keep getting my body in better shape. My

Ish Wainright buzzer beater highlights Day Three from the Nike EYBL

Ish Wainright - BDN Photo, Mark Watson

You can always count on an exciting buzzer beater shot at any session of the Nike EYBL  tour and I’ve seen some memorable ones from the likes of NBA bound Michael Gbinije in the past.  Each time the result is the same in that one team wins on a players heroics and his teammates erupt and mob him on the court in their splendor.

Ish Wainright, who was recently offered a schlorship at Duke, took his turn on Saturday and his three point buzzer beater gave  Team Takeover  a one point victory.  And it was a key win with his team dropping close games earlier, so you might say it was a timely shot, indeed.   BDN caught up to Wainright moments after the victory where we got his thoughts on what had just happened, the Duke offer and the recruiting process in our newest interview offering.  And be sure to see Andrew Slaters’ most in depth interview three days earlier with Wainright where you can get to know one of six 2013 offers. 

You can can check out the latest bu going to our members only message board where you can catch up on all the latest happenings.  BDN Premium is a pay subscription service which allows full site access to message boards and all premium based or insider articles.

Nike EYBL Session II Day 2 – The Duke angle

Coaches look on

Day Two of the Nile EYBL Session II is in the books and it was a long one where the coaches were in the gym all day and night. It’s hard to figure out where to start tonight in that my head is swimming from information overload. Let’s start with Tyler Ennis who is still [private] on the radar and while he is listed as a PG, he shows off more shooting guard skills to me despite being just 6-3. I spoke with him after his game. And then there is Andrew Wiggins who if NBA rules allowed would go straight to the league. Of course Duke has interest but this will not be an easy get, so I would call that interest somewhat luke warm in that they know it would be quite the battle.

I was impressed with Wayne Selden (2014) today and he’s going to be a good one, I secured a video chat with him. Duke has a lot of interest in him but it is too early for them to concentrate on that class which includes Theo Pinson. The interest is there for Pinson but they know he is a long ways from making his decision.

Boo Williams continued their slide and will likely not make it to the Peach Jam or the EYBL finals, dropping to 2-7 with a loss to Mokan. Al Freeman has not been impressive in the event which I said from day one and I have yet to see him use his potential in a good way. When his offense struggles he allows it to effect his whole game and while he had a good game tonight shooting the ball, his other stat totals were again, non existent. I don’t think Boo uses him right. Anthony Barber is good, but not good enough to earn an offer at this point. He is a PG that cannot really pass that well and the chemistry with Freeman ia average at best. And Try Williams continues to regress with many questioning his work ethic.

Julius Randle improved his stock and that is hard to do when you are ranked 2nd in your class. His handle is nice for a big man and he dominated when he did take it to the paint. He told BDN he had so many triple teams he decided to take his game to the perimeter and it seems to be working. Yes Matt Jones is better and he told BDN he is now 6-5 but the same weight. I have vid interviews with both.

I spoke with ex ACC official Larry Rose for a good long time and what a chat we had. He is head of MEAC officials now. I laughed at him being ragged in Cameron back in the day.

I watched a bit of Jahlil Okafor and his game is about the same as it was a year ago in that he needs to be more aggressive. A ton of folks really pick my brain about Duke now and I found myself giving disinformation to a couple of the more obnoxious types:)

Semilore Ojeleye. Semi is pronounced Shimi. I sat with Coach for part of his game and he like him a lot as do the assistants. I was tipped off they thought he could be offer material on Friday and had a brief chat with him on video. Great kid. His game? Nice. Great stroke from 3, solid, strong finisher on dunks. Listed at 6-7, but said he is 6-6. And guess who he pulled for when he grew up but don’t they all;(. Anyhow, love his game and want him in royal blue. Unique player with incredible background, smart, solid student — the whole package.

Ish Wainright is a defender supreme who can guard almost anyone and wants all challenges. Coach wants to see more offense from him. He was a beast tonight and hit a three point shot at the buzzer and Team Takeover finally won and that meant we got to talk to him, yay. Yes, that was sarcasm in that his coaches are a trip an then some.

Coach was upset about the injury to Derrick Rose and spoke of the challenges in filling the Team USA roster. Of course. Dwight Howard is out too but all the studs are expected to play. He’s been on the road non stop and came in late from Arkansas where he saw Austin Nichols score 35 points, grab 15 rebounds and swat 7 shots away in a single game. Yeah, he’s good.

Okay, that’s all I have got off the top of my head but I have yet to get to my notes. I will close it out tomorrow before taking that four hour ride back, so do not expect a whole lot on Sunday evening. However, the video interviews will balance well with Andrew and the many interviews he still has. [/private]

Marcus Lee shares the latest since Duke offer

Marcus Lee - BDN Photo

It never seems to fail that when Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski makes an offer that other schools will soon follow and that is the case with Marcus Lee who has been swarmed by media.  BDN followed up with him after the Duke offer with this exclusive one on one [private] video chat.

More to come on BDN Premium – [/private]

Nike EYBL Session II Day One – Duke Report

 

BDN Premium is red hot and here is the day one scoop for Duke recruits. Join today and discuss all the latest happenings on the message board with fellow recruitniks and Duke fans.

For the first time ever, the Boo Williams Sports Complex is full of head and assistant coaches from all the major and mid major schools.  By moving the event back a few weeks, they were allowed by the NCAA to have the nations elite play callers come to town.  Speaking of the NCAA, changes always seem to come about and during day one of the Nike EYBL Session II, all the games started 45 minutes late.  What happened was the NCAA was still in a dead period by definition and the coaches teams and players could come through the door when the games were originally supposed to start.

The Nike circuit is loaded this season and there is also a bevy of Duke prospects which BDN identified two weeks ago.  All but one of those 15 players are still on the radar and of course Duke offered four prospects scholarships last week.  During day one, [private] we concentrated part of our efforts on watching Marcus Lee, who we first told you held an offer.  While we have an interview up from Andrew Slater, I needed to get my first view of him.  In short, he’s long, athletic, moves well and is a good defender and rebounder, but his offense is a work in progress.  Lee sprained his ankle in the second half and did not scratch from the field but his talent is clear.  He told BDN that UConn, Texas, UNC, Kansas, Florida, Missouri and Duke were all showing interest and that he almost passed put and was intimidated wjhen he looked down and saw that Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke had made a call to him.  That video is coming.

I took in Matt Jones and Julius Randle as well and we have a Randle vid coming as well.  Randle dropped 15 and Jones 20 playing just over half the game in a Texas Titan’s romp.  Randle seems leaner to me and he is in great shape and still plays like a bull in the blocks while also floating out more than he did last season.  Jones seems to be improved in an overall manner and I will elaborated more as I get multiple views.

I watched part of Ish Wainright game where his team lost by a point late and that meant his coach would go into a curse-fest while whaling about and would not allow him as was the case last week, interviews.  Well, after a loss I understand and we are luck Andrew had such a long sit down with him and good luck ever finding a better interview at any Duke related site.  Yes, I am bragging on him a little.  In fact, Tom Konchalski was here and he raved about Andrew within 2 second of our annual Boo Williams event handshake.  Wainright finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds and I need more views of him before I can get into my take on his game.

Austin Nichols was rolling it up in Arkansas in front of Coach K and Jeff Capel.  He had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 6 blocks with 7 minutes to go in his game.  Thins is that he was drawing a lot of attention and I will give you one guess which ugly colored team I am talking about.  A guy from a rivals site told me they were at his games and such but I think Duke is in the door with him.  Word is he will not pick a school before some visits.

I’ll continue to share some updates but the wireless is not working in the arena and that means it is really hard to get to information as quickly as I’d like.  Coach K will be flying in any minute now and will join Collins tomorrow when we embark on the marathon day or hoops from dusk to midnight.  I will add some more stuff as it comes to me on the message boards. [/private]

6'6" Ishmail Wainright, Photo by Andrew Slater

The Stopper: Ishmail Wainright

6'6" Ishmail Wainright, Photo by Andrew Slater

Ishmail “Ish” Wainright is a physically imposing wing from Raytown, Missouri, a city less than twenty minutes away from Kansas City. One of eight brothers and sisters and blessed with the imposing presence of hungry pit bull, he has built his reputation on toughness at both ends of the court.

Defensively, Wainright has tried to establish himself as a “shutdown defender,” a phrase more commonly associated with relatively diminutive cornerbacks in football. This past weekend, the 6’6″ wing with a 7’2″ wingspan, played in three games and held the exceptionally talented Andrew Wiggins, the MVP of the recent Nike Hoop Summit, to a far and away session-low eight points in twenty-six minutes. Ishmail followed that up by holding consensus top twenty-five 2014 player Paul White to two points in twenty-two minutes and ESPN’s sixth-ranked 2013 player, Troy Williams, to six points and four turnovers.

As a scorer, Ishmail Wainright is more of an efficient grinder than a smooth shooting wing with perfect form. He uses positioning, strength, and explosion to score over taller competitors near the basket.

After leading the Kansas City 76ers to the Fab 48 Title at the end of last summer, Wainright won the MVP of the tournament. One of the standout performances was when he led an upset by outplaying Jabari Parker in the playoffs, scoring twenty-three points and holding Parker to seventeen tough points.

Soon after the summer, he left Raytown, Missouri and headed to Rockville, Maryland to play at Montrose Christian for veteran coach Stu Vetter. Wainright went to nearby George Washington and Howard for their versions of Midnight Madness. This year, Ishmail, a brief Missouri verbal commit, was teamed up with senior wing Justin Anderson (Virginia), senior forward Michael Carrera, and Canadian point guard, Kevin Zabo. Ishmail helped the perennial power reach the semi-finals of National High School Invitational and finish with a 22-3 record. Next year, the confident Wainright will take over the leadership reins of the program.

After catching a late plane, Wainright, the cousin of former Missouri shooting guard Marcus Denmon, immediately paid dividends for his new AAU program, Team Takeover. The Takeover coaches will pair him with the slimmed down 6’9″ Beejay Anya and are looking for the talented wing to be even more aggressive on offense. Team Takeover finished the weekend on a high note, defeating archival Boo Williams, 51-50, on a last second tip-in of a free throw miss.

The next night, Ishmail Wainright, a friend of Duke recruit Julius Randle, received a phone call from Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who  In depth interview ahead BDN Premium style which means you will love it.  Join today for the best AAU coverage around. [private] watched Wainright and Team Takeover play throughout the weekend, offering a full scholarship to Duke University to the 2013 wing.

Right before catching a plane, Ish Wainright spoke with me about a plethora of topics, including Duke’s interest, transferring to Montrose Christian, being a shutdown defender, writing, his short verbal commitment to Missouri, refining his physique, winning the MVP, and now feeling comfortable with his Team Takeover squad.

Let’s start with the transfer to Montrose Christian. How did you come to the decision to head out there? How has the transition gone?

Really, me and my dad sat down and we talked about it and he thought that it was time for me to move on. He thought that it was time for me to become a better player and a better young man. He sent me off.

How has it worked out?

It’s worked out. I mean playing with older guys that are little better than me and a little bigger than me, it’s been great and really, like, helped me with everything. They’re also like some of the best kids in school and so they help me out with, like, school work and stuff too.

What about the experience of living away from home?

Living away from home..

Was it tough for you?

Yeah, a little bit, I mean, I got homesick like probably three times during the year.

I don’t blame you.

Yeah, because I’m out there by myself and, so, they really took me in as their like, little brother or as their older brother…and then, with Takeover, they also took me in as their, like little brother and I feel comfortable with them.

 

In terms of a position, I’m sure that you’ve heard people wonder where you would play at the next level. What do you think of yourself as?

I think I’m more of a slasher, but I can also post up smaller guards.

What about winning the MVP at the Fab 48 last summer? I was there for that one, but didn’t talk to you afterwards. That was a big turning point for you.

Oh, yeah, that was a tough tournament, man. We was like a major underdog in that one. Nobody expected us to beat all of those teams.

I was shocked when you guys beat Mac (Irvin). I was surprised with the way that you took Jabari out of the game effectively. I mean he’s one of my favorite players and a great kid, but I have to admit that you rattled him.

Yeah, I mean I don’t know if I should admit this either, but he’s one of my favorite players to watch too (laughs) and I’ve known him since fifth grade when he was like a chubby, wide body playing for the Chicago House. He had the same moves, though, and everything.

What about playing now with an actual big guy like (Beejay) Anya and switching teams? Was it natural or…I don’t know if it’s uncomfortable for you to talk because it can get political and even a little fierce. We can just skip it.

No, no, it’s comfortable. It’s comfortable now because, you know, you saw us, I mean, last year we didn’t have any big men on our squad or AAU team and…

Let’s be honest. You were the big man on the team..

(Laughs)

Or, at best, guarding the other team’s big man. It was kind of ridiculous.

Yeah, I was guarding like 6’8,” 6’9,” 6’10,” 6’11″

Yeah, but it may help you, long-term, defensively.

Yeah, I think so too. I think it’ll help my game. You know I’m really more of a defensive player right now. Playing against those guys all the time makes it seem so much easier now to guard wings or whatever.

I was talking with one your Takeover coaches for a while and he said that they were so pleased with how you were just shutting down the other team’s wing. It’s just one less problem to have to worry about defensively.

Absolutely

I was saying that even if they get around you that it’s a nice luxury for you to be able to have a shot-blocker like Anya behind you and makes the other team think twice about even trying to drive around a physical guy like you and that 7’2″ wingspan.

It’s more like I feel like that I’m on a mission. I want to shut that guy down. I want to just take that guy out.

There aren’t too many really “shutdown defenders” right now.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s not a lot of shutdown defenders and I feel like, if I can become a truly shutdown defender (massive boom sound from a table collapsing), well, boom! It’s something that I work at and am trying to take to the next level.

What was the thinking behind committing to Missouri as a sophomore and then opening it right back up about a month later? Did you rush it or get pressured?

(Laughs) I was actually comfortable at Missouri.

Well, your older brother went there.

Yeah, exactly, my older brother goes there and is graduating. My cousin goes there. He’s Marcus Denmon (graduating shooting guard for Missouri) and then I have other friends that were there like Michael Dixon. We grew up like five minutes from each other and we always played pickup together and we worked out with the same players.

In Raytown?

Yeah, mostly Raytown and Lee’s Summit.

In terms of style of play, for most guys, it’s pretty obvious which way that they prefer to play, but, with you, it’s like a good street baller, where you can play up-and-down or you can grind it out in the half-court. Which way do you actually prefer to play?

Really, I can get up-and-down the court, but I can adapt to anything. Whatever the coaches want to run, I’ll do. I can grind too. It’s really up to them. I’m just happy to be out there competing. Yeah, I’m up for anything.

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses right now?

My strengths are getting to the basket and finishing, posting up, and passing the ball. My weaknesses right now is, well, I’d have to say that my shooting is right now, which obviously we’re trying to work on.

Are you working on it at Montrose because I remember that Justin Anderson used to be terrible at outside shooting and now he’s become so much better?

Yes, yes, definitely, we are working on that all of the time and you’re right he’s improved so much since he’s been there.

What about the NHSI and playing on television?

Oh, that was a good experience, but it was a really tough loss.

What about Duke’s interest in you?

Yeah, they’re actually interested in me because they need a big wing that can stop people and one that can slash to the basket.

What have they talked to you about?

Oh, they’ve been actually talking to my parents and my high school coaches and everything.

And what’s your interest level in them? They’ve been watching you all weekend.

It’s really high right now because they’ve been watching me all weekend. I see Coach K every game (laughs). It’s almost hard to take in that he’s now actually, like, recruiting me.

Do you have any plans to visit yet?

I don’t know, but I haven’t made any plans to visit really any school yet. I’m just concentrating on school right now.

Generally, talk about being physical and loving to rebound.

Oh, I love to be physical and get in there and fight. I love to rebound too. I want to try to give my teammates and coaches at least ten rebounds in every game. That’s my goal. I love to do it, man. Just get us more possessions or shots.

Is there a player or two that you try to model your game after?

Melo. Well, Melo and LeBron. Those are my guys.

What’s your current size?

6’6,” 225

You’re one of eight brothers and sisters. Well, some are step brothers..

Oh, yes, it’s a big family. You should check out my younger brother, Amaad (Wainright). He should be on the scene pretty soon.

I was reading your blog. You grew up actually as a Florida fan in Missouri. They’re recruiting you now. Will that play a factor in your decision?

Yes, I did and I’d like to go down there for a visit.

Who will you turn to for guidance, whenever you do decide on a college?

My Uncle. I have an Uncle, who is like a mentor to me, Uncle Alex.

You’ve always played up, but now there’s nowhere to go.

(laughs) It’s hard. It’s feels kinda weird. I’m now finally playing against guys my age and younger. It’s definitely a different or strange feeling. (laughs)

I must say that the elephant in the room is that you just look huge close up. I’m in the gym a lot, but you look like you live there right now.

(laughs)

Are you trying to get bigger with your body? Leaner? What’s the goal here? What are we doing?

I’m actually trying to get leaner. I feel like I’m a little too heavy when I’m going around the court. So, I’m actually trying to cut more body fat and weight. I want to try to get down to, at least, 220.

Have you worked on conditioning a lot at Montrose too?

Really, that’s more of a “every once in a while” type of thing.

Growing up in Raytown, you were fifty miles from KU and one hundred and twenty miles from Missouri. It’s less than twenty minutes south of Kansas City. I was there last October, but talk about growing up there. It’s not a bad area.

Oh, well, it was a nice area to grow up in, but it’s gotten a little less worse now. That’s why I’m trying to work my butt off right now to get some options (laughs).

I thought it was funny that in your blog, you wrote about GW having a boring Midnight Madness, but you liked the Howard one.

Yes, yes.

I appreciated your honesty. By the way, how has the experience been with your writing and getting people to know about you through your blog?

I’m actually trying to work on the next one. I’ve got to do work on the next update and I’m going to try to do some stuff on the plane, but you’re exactly right. It’s a way for me as an athlete to get my words out there. It’s a way for people to know me because I think, in the past, people thought that I was a little cocky guy or whatever.

That’s it. I can see them waving that you have to run. Thanks for your time and good luck next week.

Yeah, I do. Thanks for doing this. I’ll see you later.

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