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‘Nova waits patiently for prep star Ochefu

Markus Kennedy, Jayvaughn Pinston, Jay Wright

Markus Kennedy, left, and Jayvaughn Pinston listen to coach Jay Wright during Villanova’s NCAA college basketball practice Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


Recruiting has such a fragile rhythm to it. Jump on a kid too soon, and you’re taking a huge risk that he has a high ceiling. Wait too long, and someone else will secure his services. Kids commit and de-commit all the time. Coaches get other jobs or get fired. It’s why we use phrases like “recruiting saga” and “recruiting journey” so often.

Villanova’s Jay Wright has generally done a good job of sorting out the good apples. He’s banking a lot on Maryland native Daniel Ochefu, a 6-10, 240-lb. prep powerhouse who’s scheduled to join the team next season. Paired with top-100 point guard Ryan Arcidiacano, he should be one-half of the Wildcats’ inside-out game of the future.

Wright felt so confident about Ochefu’s abilities that he offered a scholarship early. The coach also felt confident enough in his program’s appeal to give Ochefu space to make the right decision. The gamble paid off.

“It was a real close battle,” Ochefu told the Philadelphia Daily News. “Came down to three schools. I really liked the feeling I got from Villanova’s coaches. The way they run their business is very professional, with lots of structure. And I liked that they didn’t pressure me.”

Ochefu considers himself a Marylander, but has played his high school ball in the Philly suburb of West Chester. He had a very impressive showing at the recent Albert C. Donofrio Classic, shooting 9-of-10, scoring 21 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and swatting five shots in leading his team to victory over a city-based squad.

The Wildcats will be relying on Ochefu to show that kind of versatility next season, as the program attempts to rebound from a year without an NCAA tournament appearance, a fate that last befell them in 2004. Better yet, Wright and company no doubt hope to return to 2009 form, when ‘Nova made it all the way to the Final Four.

Ochefu seems to have the right blend of talent and coachability to power such a resurgence, if he does say so himself.

“I think I have a real high ‘ball IQ. And I’m willing to work,” he told the newspaper. “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 postup moves the next. Really, I guess I’ll have to do all of that some nights.”

There are still a few months left to go until hoops season (or so we keep telling ourselves), but it sounds like Ochefu will be worth the wait.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He likes to crack wise and talk college hoops @stfhoops on Twitter.