Igor Ibaka, the brother of Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, carries a surname that adds immediate intrigue around these parts. But starring for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M last season, Igor was in the early stages of a college career quickly gaining steam.
And now, it seems, there will be more of an interest in Igor statewide. News surfaced on Tuesday night – first reported by Rivals site Juco Junction and later confirmed by The Oklahoman – that Igor intends to play for Oklahoma State in the 2015-16 season.
Igor impressed during a December game attended by The Oklahoman, blocking a few shots, throwing down a dunk and flashing a smooth looking jumper, rare in most big men and similar in form to his brother. He’s smaller and much less polished than Serge was at this point of his development, but still seems to have a solid college career ahead of him. And apparently, Travis Ford and the Cowboy staff agrees.
Before he can play his first game in Stillwater, roadblocks remain in Igor’s way. To explain his eligibility situation and to give better insight into his development path, The Oklahoman chatted with NEO coach Dustin Grover, who brought Igor over and groomed him the past year.
Q: This Igor news has surfaced. Is that for sure?
A: Nothing is for sure because he can’t sign yet. But I think he has, to a certain extent, verbally committed. But he is taking classes at another junior college and he’s gonna attempt to graduate, taking summer classes now and some classes next fall and spring. And after that, after he graduates, his intentions are to go to Oklahoma State.
Early last season he was getting looked at by Mountain West and Southland teams. How did Oklahoma State enter the picture?
Wichita State was in at the end. People like Tulsa, they all expressed interest. Then as the summer got closer, with everyone itching for a big man, Oklahoma State called and asked. Then one thing led to another and I think the appeal being a little closer to Oklahoma City (and his brother), for him, and the fact that Oklahoma State is in the Big 12, those things kind of combined for him to get very interested in them. From that point on, he became very interested in what they had to offer.
Sounds like he can’t play next season. Is that strictly an academic, eligibility thing?
Yeah, he’s a nonqualifier (in junior college). So when you’re a non-qualifier, you have to graduate from junior college. So he has to get his associate’s degree, then he can transfer in, just like any non-qualifier would. Once he gets graduated, he’d be able to transfer there and that would happen in the fall of 2015. He’s gonna take summer school and classes next fall and spring.
I can’t comment on that yet.
But he will not play basketball next year?