Ohio State basketball lands commitment from top-50 center Felix Okpara for 2022 class

Adam Jardy
The Columbus Dispatch
Hamilton Heights center Felix Okpara (No. 24, on right) chose Ohio State over Ole Miss and Oklahoma. He is the ninth ranked center in the 2022 recruiting class.

Felix Okpara came to the United States three years ago with a belief that he could play basketball at the highest level.

Monday, the native of Nigeria took the next step on his path with a commitment to join Ohio State for the class of 2022. A four-star prospect in the 247Sports.com composite database, the 6-11, 210-pound Okpara gives the Buckeyes a third top-50 recruit in that class and a much-needed big body.

He committed to coach Chris Holtmann for three primary reasons.

“The family vibe, the relationship between the coaches and players and also player development,” he told The Dispatch. “They’re going to help make me the player I want to be, the player of my dreams. I really believed that they could do that.”

Assistant coach Jake Diebler was his primary recruiter, and Okpara said Ohio State would frequently contact him after games with detailed feedback that showed they had been paying close attention. He was one of at least a half-dozen big men to take official visits to Ohio State during the month of June.

A relative neophyte to the game, Okpara said he had been playing basketball for four or five months before opting to move to the United States to play in high school. He commits to Ohio State as the No. 47 national recruit and the No. 9 center entering his senior season at Chattanooga (Tennessee) Hamilton Heights Christian Academy.

“If someone would’ve told me three years ago when I came over here that I was gonna be one of the top players in the country and get a bunch of offers, I would’ve thought they were joking,” he said.

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He chose the Buckeyes from a list of finalists that also included Ole Miss and Oklahoma. Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt were known to have offered as well.

Ohio State views him as "a stretch 5," Okpara said. He’s a proven rebounder and rim protector with a knack for blocking shots. "I can play in and out and also affect the game defensively,” he said.

Felix Okpara joins a loaded Buckeyes recruiting class

Okpara joins a recruiting class that also includes four-star guards Bruce Thornton (No. 23 nationally) from Milton High School in Alpharetta, Georgia, Roddy Gayle Jr. (No. 46) of Mount Pleasant, Utah's, Wasatch Academy and three-star guard Bowen Hardman (No. 201) from Cincinnati Princeton.

Buckeyes recruiting:Is Class of '22 basketball commit Bruce Thornton Ohio State's next 5-star?

With Okpara’s commitment, the 2022 class is now ranked first nationally according to 247Sports. The Buckeyes are likely to add another big man and are a finalist for four-star center Tarris Reed, a 6-9, 230-pound player from Link Year Prep (Branson, Missouri), who will announce his decision Aug. 5.

Reed announced his finalists as Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue and Michigan State. A source has indicated to The Dispatch that Reed, the No. 71 national recruit, will pick between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

Monday, though, Okpara said he’s relieved to start officially working toward the next chapter of his career.

“Committing, it relieves a lot of stress,” he said. “Right now I know I need to work hard to prepare me for the next level.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy

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