Oklahoma State basketball: Explaining the Igor Ibaka situation; when will he be eligible?

by Anthony Slater Published: June 11, 2014


photo - 
Igor Ibaka, brother of Oklahoma City Thunder player Serge Ibaka, is expected to join the Oklahoma State basketball team for the 2015-16 season. Igor Ibaka has been playing at NEO in Miami, Okla. PHOTO BY ADAM KEMP, The Oklahoman
Igor Ibaka, brother of Oklahoma City Thunder player Serge Ibaka, is expected to join the Oklahoma State basketball team for the 2015-16 season. Igor Ibaka has been playing at NEO in Miami, Okla. PHOTO BY ADAM KEMP, The Oklahoman

No, he cannot play basketball. It’s against NCAA rules because he is too old to compete. Once you turn 22, you can’t compete at the junior college level anymore (Igor turns 22 in July).

How many years will he be eligible at OSU?

That’s up to the NCAA. He’s only competed in college one year. The NCAA may come back and say he has three, two, I don’t know what they’ll say, but that’s up to them. I’m sure once he gets through the clearinghouse, they’ll give him that final say.

You coached him last season, know his game and know the level of D1 competition. Do you view him as a guy who can go into OSU in a year and immediately contribute?

I think in order for him to compete at the Big 12 level in 2015, his skill set in the low post needs to improve a lot. He’s got the jumpshot, got a face-up game and got the size. But in order to play at that level at a 6-foot-7 size, height, he’s going to have to improve his low-post ability to score. Doesn’t quite have that yet. So he has some growth to do over the next 12 months because the Big 12 is a high, major conference and he’s only played one year of college basketball.

You mentioned the ability to hit the jumper. He stretches out to mid-range and near the college three. Can that translate?

He got a lot better with it as the year went on. By the time the end of our year, he was pretty integral on our team, that ability to hit that shot. I think he’s going to have to do that at his size, at 6-7. But post guys, at that level, still got to be able to score on the interior. So he’s going to have to do both. A lot of that is just footwork and having a go-to move at that level. He’ll be able to work on all that stuff over the next year, he’s just not going to be able to get the game practice of it. He’s not going to be playing in games. So he’s going to have to get on the floor and work on it.

His brother’s known as such a hard-worker. They seem to have similar personalities. Do you see that trait in Igor?

I think he does. Igor hasn’t been playing that long. And as with anyone who is just learning, he’s going to have to learn to compete harder when he’s not on the game floor. But his personality and his character and those type of things, that’ll happen with him being a hard-worker. The only concern I would have over the next 12 months is he’s going to need to have a little guidance. Because it’s not easy sitting out a year and not being in a program, that’s not an easy thing to accomplish. So he’s going to need a little guidance, pushing him to a certain extent. But he has all the ability in the world to do it.

Six-foot-seven and weighs what?

225 right now and can probably get bigger. So he’s a big man. And simply put, there’s not many of those out there. He would be projected as one of the best junior college big man out there if he was coming back and playing for us. He would be the best in our league. I’d put him in the upper-echelon of players.

by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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