Point guard joins Gators' recruiting class

Published: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 5:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 5:38 p.m.

Point guard recruit Michael Okauru said he felt an instant connection while visiting the Florida campus last December.

“I just fell in love with the atmosphere,” Okauru said. “Everybody was all family oriented and they just took me in. So, it just felt it was the right place for me.”

Okauru signed his National Letter of Intent to attend Florida on Wednesday, five months after his commitment. At 6-foot-3 1/2 with a 6-6 wingspan, Okauru joins forward Chase Johnson, center Isaiah Stokes and swingman DeAundrae Ballard as the fourth signee of UF's 2017 class. With the addition of Okauru, ESPN.com has UF's class ranked ninth in the nation.

All four incoming freshman are set to arrive on UF's campus when the Summer B session starts June 26.

“I wish I could be down here now,” Okauru said. “I can't wait to start working.”

Specifically, Okauru said he's looking forward to working with Florida coach Mike White and his staff, which includes a pair of assistants (Jordan Mincy and Darris Nichols) who were former college point guards.

“Coach White, he likes bigger point guards,” Okauru said. “When he was at Louisiana Tech he said he had a guard (Kenneth “Speedy” Smith) that led the country in assists so he's thinking he could do the same for me.”

Said White: “We expect him to be a great fit here, along with the rest of our incoming class, and look forward to having them on campus.”

A Raleigh, N.C., native, Okauru grew up idolizing former Kentucky and current Washington Wizards point guard John Wall. He spent this past season helping lead Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., to a prep national title.

“It was great,” Okauru said. “Playing with a lot of high-level guys from all over the country. So I mean, our chemistry was there from day one. Everything went well for us. For me contributing to that team, I think I did everything I could, passing the ball to my teammates, scoring when I had to, rebounding, doing the little things, so, I did whatever the coach told me to do.”

A three/four-star recruit, Okauru had offers from Georgia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina State.

“There's no question he's an SEC level athlete,” Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi said. “He's got some length and can defend multiple positions. At this point, he projects more as a combo guard, but he's a coachable kid. His skill level should continue to get better.”

In assessing his own game, Okauru said: “ I get to the rim well, I get my teammates involved well. I think I play pretty good defense. What I need to get better at is making my 3-point shot more consistent.”

Okauru said he has been playing point guard since middle school.

“I just like being able to control the game, being an extension of the coach on the court, getting my teammates involved,” Okauru said. “I like to make the game easier for everybody.”

This past season, Florida had a pair of point guards who made the game easier for others, with Kasey Hill ranking second in the SEC in assists (4.6 apg) and Chris Chiozza ranking ninth (3.7 apg). With Hill's departure, Okauru projects to back up Chiozza at point guard next season. Returning junior guard KeVaughn Allen and Virginia Tech transfer Jalen Hudson could also see some time at the point next season.

“I'm just going to take it in, learn from those older guys,” Okauru said. “I think it will be beneficial to my success there, I'm just going to have to do whatever I have to do to help the team win.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or kevin.brockway@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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