Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013

Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013
May 30, 2012, 2:28 pm
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36-22.

Jubril Adekoya doesn't have to be reminded. He knows what 36-22 means. It was the final score of Andrew's loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 4A sectional semifinal last year.

Adekoya and his teammates were experiencing the most successful basketball season since the Tinley Park school opened in 1977. They won 15 of their first 17 games, won their first conference title in 35 years and were ranked among the top 10 teams in the Chicago area.

Then they met Homewood-Flossmoor in the sectional semifinal.

"That was ugly. Quite honestly, I don't try to remember it," Adekoya said. "We weren't prepared to play. We weren't excited to play. It wasn't a good day for us as a team."

Adekoya scored no points in the first half and shot 0-for-4. He managed 14 points in the second half but it was too little, too late. Andrew converted only 11.9 percent (5-for-42) of its shots. The Thunderbolts finished with a 23-5 record.

"When the buzzer went off, I realized that was it, no practice tomorrow," Akekoya said. "It was tough for a lot of guys but it was reality. I didn't handle it great. I was frustrated at myself. What could I have done to help my team? It was my worst game of the season. We ran out of gas. People who were ready to play weren't knocking down shots or doing what they usually do. I was frustrated, double-teamed. I couldn't get the ball."

So much for 2011-12. Adekoya, a 6-foot-6 junior whom coach Mike O'Halloran describes as only the third Division I player in 35 years to come out of Andrew, returns with one other starter, guard Glorind Lisha. He knows it will be difficult to improve on last year's record but he is determined to finish the 2012-13 season on a winning note.

"After the buzzer went off (at the conclusion of the H-F game), I just began to think about this year," Adekoya said. "I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I don't ever want to feel that again. Mentally, I'm preparing for next season and I haven't even started summer workouts yet. I'm motivated a whole lot.

"With so many losses (three starters, four of the top six players), my role will have to triple. I averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds last season. For total effectiveness, I must continue to rebound and score more points, probably over 20 per game. I feel I have to get more selfish to help my team next season. My task in every game also will be to defend the other team's best player. I have to step up in every aspect of the game and become a better leader."

Meanwhile, Adekoya is eager to prove he is one of the top prospects in a class that recruiting analysts project as perhaps the best crop of talent produced in the Chicago area since 1979.

He has scholarship offers from Loyola, St. Louis, Northern Illinois, Pennsylvania, Western Illinois, Akron and Toledo. He has interest from Illinois, Tennessee, Oregon State, DePaul, Northwestern, Illinois-Chicago, Detroit, Ball State, Indiana State, Creighton, Drake, Ohio, Wichita State and Illinois State. As he gains more exposure and becomes more dominant, more offers can be expected.

His dream school is Oregon. "Since I was young, it started with the colors (green and yellow). I fell I love with the jersey and the colors. I fell in love with Oregon, watching them on TV when I was growing up. Now I follow them. I feel it would be fun to play in the Pac-12 Conference. It would be cool to play on the West Coast, to play against UCLA. It would be awesome if (Oregon) showed me some attention. I'd be super excited about
that," he said.

He has no favorites at the moment. He is just enjoying the recruiting process. He wants to play wherever he can fit in best and play right away. He thinks a large college would be cool but if he can't help the team right away, he might prefer a smaller school that would provide a better fit. Location doesn't figure in the equation. He figures his decision will come down to how he fits in with the coaches and players and if he feels comfortable on the campus.

Adekoya admits he felt comfortable midway through last season and was ready to commit. But more schools began to contact him as he played better. So now he believes he will wait until after the 2012-13 season. He isn't in a hurry. He figures he will get better and more schools will become aware of him.

"Hopefully, more schools will offer me," he said. "I want to be patient and hope the decision will be easier to make. I know there will be somebody who wants me to go there as bad as I want to be there and feels I can play at a high level."

Meanwhile, he is improving his skills and showcasing them this summer while playing with Mean Streets on the AAU circuit. "I'm improving my guard skills. Last year, I was one-dimensional, on the block or inside. I overpowered smaller people last year. But my outside shot and dribbling and ball-handling have improved. I hope recruiters see I am more comfortable on the perimeter," he said.

"I have improved a lot. My guard skills and perimeter game have shot up since last year. I was constricted in high school because I was the biggest guy on the team. For Mean Streets, I'm playing all over. For college, some have talked about strong forward, some wing, some say both positions. I feel I am a mismatch for a lot of people. I have size but also quickness and I can play on the perimeter. My skills are there but my goal always is to get better.

"As far as next season, I feel stuff will fall into place. I want to be the best leader I can be on and off the floor. And I want to play everywhere on the floor. I hope to continue to rebound as well as I did last year but I want to improve my assists. I should be involved in almost everything we do...score, set screens, pass, rebound, defend."

And erase the memory of 36-22.