Daniel Ochefu arrived at Villanova with the opportunity to eliminate the widely believed stigma that Jay Wright can only coach guards. After a mild freshman campaign considering his lofty top 50 ranking out of high school, expectations were undoubtedly high; the minutes available and talent surrounding him gave Daniel a very nice environment to develop. Here's how Tony Chennault's final year unfolded:
What was expected
In between thunderous dunks and disrespectful rejections, many holes remained in Ochefu's game: he had a disproportionately high turnover rate, looked tentative under the basket, and left fans with an ulcer after every trip to the free-throw line as he shot under 50%. But the talent and basketball IQ were clearly there, so expectations rightfully included a high ceiling.
Jimdribbleless Scenario: Fresh with a dose of full confidence, Ochefu utilizes his dominant back to the basket game, unbridled athleticism, and transcendent basketball IQ to take Villanova all the way to the NCAA Championship. NBA Scouts quickly forget about Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker and proclaim the Villanova center as the next "once in a generation" prospect.
Best Case Scenario: Ochefu learns to shoot free-throws and turns enough of his rebounds into scoring plays to become a true offensive threat for the Wildcats. His defense and rebounding help slow the efforts of bigger front courts around the NCAA, and the coaches can gloat about their big's development.
Worst Case Scenario: Struggles at the charity stripe continue into year-two, while the guards-first offensive style doesn't seem to mesh with a big forward in the paint. Ochefu gets some points, but never breaks out into superstar status as he'd hoped.
Daniel's season definitively leans towards the best case prediction. Statistically, Ochefu improved in virtually every major category: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. While the nominal increases can be partly attributed to the five additional minutes played per game, his shooting percentage from the floor elevated nearly 15%. The statistics pass the eye test as well, as Ochefu controlled the paint with assertive force and a much quicker first step. He also decreased his liability at the free-throw line where he raised his percentage to 56%
Unfortunately, turnovers plagued Ochefu during the early portion of the season. At times during non-conference play, it seemed like there were times where a situation in which Daniel handled the ball was a near guaranteed turnover. But by the end of the season, the big man had regained his confidence and even demonstrated his rumored potential as a point-forward.
Vote from Wisdom of Crowds
In Wisdom of Crowds, we asked readers to vote on their prediction for how many points per game Ochefu would average this season. The consensus centered around 7.5 points with 30% % (87 voters) with a fairly normal distribution around the mean. The data certainly skewed to the left however, as nearly 30% of voters predicted that Ochefu would score less than 6 points per game.
But those who were slightly less optimistic on Daniel's point production turned out to be the wisest among the crowd, as 12% (35 voters) were within two tenths of the actual 5.7 ppg.
2013-14 Stat Line
The mid-conference victory over Seton Hall validated the opinion of those who sing highly of Ochefu's potential. The sophomore center recorded his only double-double of the season, notching 10 points along with his 10 rebounds. But most importantly, Daniel demonstrated his intelligence and skill around the basket, dishing out 6 assists and showing off a beautiful high-low game with JayVaughn Pinkston.
In a game where Villanova desperately needed his size to combat their opponents enormous frontcourt, Ochefu left something to be desired with his performance against Kansas University during the Battle 4 Atlantis. The center only recorded 2 points and 5 rebounds, but padded his stat sheet the wrong way with 3 turnovers. He fouled out in only 9 minutes of action.
B+ - Daniel Ochefu earns a solid grade for multiple reasons. First, he raised his statistics when given the chance to play starter minutes. But more importantly, Ochefu acted as the Villanova's only true big man. As has been noted throughout the season by multiple comments, it is incredibly difficult to maintain an aggressive mindset, especially on the defensive end, knowing that you are your team's first and only line of defense on the front court. Keeping this in mind, Ochefu performed admirably this season.