Over the past few years, several young men from Nigeria used a school in DeKalb County as their gateway to college basketball.
Greenforest-McCalep Christian Academy, nestled just northeast of Panthersville, produced two of the country’s top prospects last year in Ike Obiagu and Victor Enoh. Both are natives of Nigeria and were ranked as top recruits by ESPN. They follow John Ogwuche and Precious Ayah, who entered college basketball last year from the school.
But DeKalb has also produced a fair amount of homegrown college basketball talent.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, here are 10 players from DeKalb to watch for:
Bryce Brown — Junior, Auburn (Columbia)
According to 247sports, Auburn was the only offer Brown had coming out of high school to play for a major program. He went with the Tigers over Georgia Southern, FIU, Kennesaw State and others, and it’s a chance that has paid off for Auburn. Brown averaged 10 points per game as a freshman and 7.5 points as a sophomore. Coming into his third season under Bruce Pearl, he averaged a team-best 18.3 points per game during a preseason tour over the summer in Italy. The Stone Mountain native had his best game last year in a win over Mississippi State, where he tallied 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Alterique Gilbert — R-Freshman, UConn (Miller Grove)
A 6-foot point guard, Gilbert was a McDonald’s All-American and tabbed as the 30th best player in the country when he graduated from Miller Grove High School. A four-star point guard, he signed with the Huskies over Illinois, Louisville, Syracuse and Texas. Unfortunately, he played just three games at UConn before a torn labrum and surgery ended his rookie collegiate season. Through those games, he tallied 31 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and seven steals. Gilbert told a reporter in October that he is back “100 percent” from his injury.
Nick Harris — Junior, Charleston (St. Pius X)
As a sophomore, Harris started 31 games for the Cougars, helping propel them to the CAA championship game and a berth in the NIT a year ago. The 6-foot-10 forward was the second-leading rebounder for Charleston and averaged 5.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last season. In six games last season, he notched double digits in points or rebounds.
Greg King — R-Junior, Niagara (MLK Jr.)
King took a redshirt and sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but should help the Purple Eagles establish a presence in the paint. Before Niagara, the 6-foot-7 forward had stops at Eastern Kentucky University and Chipola College. At EKU, he had an outing where he scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds against a West Virginia team that went on to earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. At Chipola, the Lithonia native averaged 6.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Ike Obiagu — Freshman, Florida State (Greenforest-McCalep Christian)
Draft Express — a website dedicated to covering the NBA Draft and prospects — called the Nigerian native a “ridiculous physical specimen” citing he measured in at 7-foot-1, 241 pounds, has a 7-foot-5 wingspan, and a standing reach of 9-foot-4. These measurables combined with his skills lead most sites to give him a four-star ranking, and led ESPN to call him the 83rd best player in the country. Obiagu took visits to Baylor, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Long Beach State and Auburn before picking the Seminoles. He received offers from 24 Division I schools.
David Onuorah — R-Senior, UConn (Marist School)
After graduating from the Marist School, the Lithonia native went to the Ivy League where he started in 80 games for Cornell over three seasons. At 6-foot-9 and 249 pounds, Onuorah should give the Huskies some inside presence, as he averaged 6.8 rebounds per game and was third in the Ivy League in blocked shots as a junior. Perhaps his best game of his Cornell career came in a 2015 win over Lafayette, where he tallied 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three steals. After leaving Cornell, Onuorah opted for UConn over Georgetown.
Bobby Perez — R-Junior, Wofford (Marist School)
A 5-foot-11 guard, Perez walked on with the Terriers as a freshman, but has provided them with some valuable bench depth through his career. Since his freshman year, he’s scored or recorded an assist in a game nine times. Perez took a redshirt season last year and will look for a bigger role with two years of eligibility remaining. He’s appeared in a total of 15 games for the Terriers and made the SoCon Academic Honor Roll twice.
Keith Pinckney — Senior, Old Dominion (Miller Grove)
Coming out of high school, Pinckney picked Tulane over offers from Harvard, Georgia Southern, Miami, Xavier and others, according to 247sports. The 6-foot-1 guard lasted there just a year, transferring into Northwest Florida State College. After breaking his wrist, he made the jump back in Division I ball, taking his talents to Norfolk over Cornell, Coastal Carolina and Mercer. Pinckney didn’t see much playing time in his first year with the Monarchs, appearing in just nine games, but he showed an ability to score a bit at Tulane, notching points in 20 of the games he played for the Green Wave.
Maurice Rivers — R-Junior, Jackson State (Columbia)
The 6-foot-7 forward started his collegiate basketball career at Rice, but will play his second year in the SWAC with Jackson State this season. River developed a nose for the basket as the season went on, scoring 10 points or more in eight contests. He was solid in the paint too, averaging 4.8 rebounds and about a half-a-block per game.
Nick Singleton — R-Junior, Mississippi State (Columbia)
After a season at Seward Community College, the Decatur native landed in Starkville as a walk-on. In his first season for the Bulldogs, Singleton saw action in seven games and appeared in the SEC tournament. His best game came against Northwestern State, where he scored five points and picked up a block and a steal in the win.