2012 Villanova Basketball Preview: Daniel Ochefu

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As we went about recapping our Wisdom of Crowds player scoring predictions, we realized that we omitted one player from our preview series – Daniel Ochefu. With apologies to Daniel and drawing solace from the adage ‘better late than never,’ here’s the last of our player previews.

Hometown: Baltimore, Md

High School: Downingtown East

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 245

Daniel was born in Baltimore but moved with his family to Nigeria at the age of eleven, missing out on several years of development as a basketball player. He returned a few years later to a new home in West Chester, Pa., where he played basketball at Westtown School. Following a disciplinary action after his senior season, Daniel spent the last two months of high school at Downingtown East where he was awarded his diploma.

In his senior season at Westtown, Ochefu average 16 points and 12 rebounds per game. As a long and athletic 6-foot-9, 225-pound center, he was ranked #54 among the ESPN Top 100 and #12 at his position, earning accolades as a strong defender and shot blocker. On offense, scouts lauded his terrific passing and ball handling skills. He can score with his back to the basket, but prefers to be a face-up shooter with good range of up to 15 feet. Interior scoring skills and footwork are the areas Daniel must develop at Villanova.

What set him apart from other players in high school was his high basketball IQ and great attitude. In an interview last summer, Ochufu uttered the words coaches love to hear. “Whatever coach [Jay] Wright wants from me, I'm going to provide it. Whether that means grabbing rebounds, running the floor and blocking shots one night or using good post up moves the next.”

Centers are generally slow to adapt to the college game, and Daniel is no exception. Through five games at Villanova this season, he has averaged 3.4 PPG on 41% shooting, plus 3.8 RPG and 0.4 BPG. Free throw shooting has been his most glaring weakness, where he is currently hitting only 37% (albeit on only 8 attempts so far). He projects confidence on the floor and his athleticism is palpable.

Best Case Scenario: Daniel quickly adjusts to the speed and talent of the college game and becomes a solid contributor on both ends of the court. This will be critical to the success of the Cats this season, particularly if Mouph does not emerge from his early season funk to become the double-double machine we expected.

Worst Case Scenario: The Cats revert to Guard U as the losses mount, and Daniel’s development stagnates.

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The Wisdom of Crowds Returns

Our Wisdom of Crowds experiment is back for the 2012-2013 season.

Following each of our player previews, we poll the VUHoops community asking them to predict the PPG of the featured player for the upcoming season. Bleacher Report predicts that Daniel will have a solid rookie season, scoring 6.5 PPG while playing 17.0 MPG.

They write,”The 6'10" freshman should immediately contribute more than departing center Markus Kennedy. Ochefu possesses the skills of a true center and should be a solid big man off the bench behind Sutton and Yarou. Freshman year will be important for Ochefu to get Big East experience under his belt seeing that he will be Nova's go-to big man for the next three years." While we have the advantage of seeing Daniel play in five games and scoring 3.4 PPG, the season is young and his scoring should climb from here.

The PPG stats from other ‘Nova bigs in their freshman campaigns may be instructive as we consider the offensive potential of Mr. Ochefu this year. Here’s a sampling of the rookie scoring of ‘Nova bigs from recent years: Mouphtaou Yarou 4.5 PPG; Markus Kennedy 3.0 PPG; Isaiah Armwood 2.3 PPG; Dante Cunningham 2.2 PPG and Maurice Sutton 1.8 PPG

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