Josh Okogie arrived at Georgia Tech from Shiloh High in 2016 as a three-star prospect, rated the 11th-best prospect in the state of Georgia by one service and unrated in another. No other ACC team saw fit to offer him a scholarship.
He leaves in considerably higher regard. After earning third-team All-ACC honors this past season and then standing out at the NBA draft combine this past weekend, Okogie announced Monday that he will give up his final two years of collegiate eligibility. He had declared himself an early entry to the draft after the season, but, not hiring an agent, held open the possibility of returning for his junior season.
“I’m extremely humbled and grateful for this opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream,” Okogie wrote in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “I would like to thank God for the gifts he bestowed upon me and his guidance through this process.”
Ultimately, Okogie’s eldest brother Evaristus said that the decision would come down to feedback from NBA scouts, and the Okogies evidently heard what they needed to hear.
“So with the feedback that we’ve gotten, a bunch of teams see him going somewhere in the first or very early in the second,” said Evaristus Okogie, who has guided the process for his family.
As he went through the pre-draft process, Okogie was seen as an athletic guard who played at a high level of effort. Scouts surmised that, with his level of athletic ability and willingness to defend, he could open a lot of eyes at the combine in Chicago. He was seen as one of the big winners of the combine, first in his measurables (he was one of four guards with a wingspan of 7’0” and his max vertical leap of 42 inches tied for the best) and then in 5-on-5 scrimmages.
“I think he helped himself a lot,” an NBA scout told the AJC, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Obviously, he defended really well. He plays with great toughness, and in the second game, he really passed the ball well.”
“I like how aggressive he was getting to the basket and shooting the ball,” a second NBA scout said. “Not many guys are aggressive in that setting, so it was nice to see.”
In two scrimmages, Okogie was able to do a little bit of everything – he scored 26 points, got to the free-throw line, rebounded and picked up steals and assists.
He likely showed the effort, speed and savvy that highlighted the first two years of coach Josh Pastner’s tenure at Tech. As a sophomore, he averaged 18.2 points per game, fourth in the ACC, and became only the sixth Tech player to reach 1,000 points in two seasons.
“We had some pretty positive feedback from the combine,” Evaristus Okogie said. “He did extremely well. There were a few things that a bunch of teams weren’t really sure about. A lot of it had to do with him, playing at Georgia Tech and not having that spotlight. One thing that was outstanding was his defense.”
Okogie had a handful of workouts for NBA teams (including the Hawks) prior to the combine and his brother said that more teams are interested in bringing him in. The draft is June 21.
“It was just the best decision for him,” Evaristus Okogie said. “Just keep rolling.”
For Tech and Pastner, Okogie’s decision leaves the Yellow Jackets without three of their top four scorers (Okogie, guard Tadric Jackson and center Ben Lammers) and their top two rebounders (Lammers and Okogie). After a 13-19 season (6-12 in the ACC), the Jackets appear hard pressed to improve upon those marks in Pastner’s third season.