Virginia Tech picked up its second commitment in three days with the addition of John Ojiako, a much needed big man. He is just the latest in the line of the last three Hokies’ commits to reclassify from 2020 into 2019. Ojiako, rated as a three-star prospect, bolsters the Hokies’ front court depth which was severely lacking given Kerry Blackshear’s situation and an already shallow roster at that position. Listed at 6’10”, Ojiako becomes the Hokies’ tallest high school recruit since Kerry Blackshear in 2015. This is a very nice pickup for Mike Young this late in the 2019 recruiting cycle.
Ojiako hails from St. Petersburg, Florida, where he played at Admiral Farragut Academy. He had offers outstanding from FAU, FGCU, Georgia, LSU, Rhode Island, and Pittsburgh. He is ranked by 247sports as the No. 236 player in his class and the No. 21 player in Florida.
While Ojiako may not be one of the biggest recruiting names in the class, he may end up being one of the most important members of this year’s team. Without Kerry Blackshear on the current roster, Ojiako appears to be in line to start or play heavy minutes inside the paint. His competition right now appears to be just PJ Horne, Keve Aluma (who must sit a year), and Branden Johnson.
Of course, that outlook could change with Blackshear’s possible return. Mike Young went on record with Mark Berman of the Roanoke times, saying he believes that Blackshear is still considering the Hokies as a destination for his final collegiate season.
Currently, Blackshear is on a visit to Kentucky, who will assuredly be looking to lock in Blackshear in blue while visiting Lexington. It will be (another) hard sell for Young and I do think Blackshear ultimately ends up choosing the Wildcats, but the coaching staff is still working to keep him a Hokie for his entire career. Young has kept the Hokies’ 13th and final scholarship spot open for Blackshear for the upcoming season and that spot will likely stay open until he makes his decision.
If Blackshear decides to stay and Ojiako turns out to be a serviceable backup or spot starter his freshman year, the Hokies would have their best front court depth in years. That had been a weakness at inopportune times under Buzz Williams and that was partly due to his bigs having to play a ton of minutes which wore them down by the end of games, not to mention the constant worry about foul trouble. Having multiple guys that can protect the rim, rebound, and run the floor would make an obvious difference.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any video of Ojiako so I can’t do a thorough scouting report. But he appears to be an athletic, lengthy big that will be able to make a difference as a rim protector. Per his high school coach (h/t to Mark Berman again), Ojiako has only been playing basketball for two years and should only get better.
Welcome to Blacksburg, John.