It takes more than one good player to make a good basketball team. But one very good and very big player has made a big difference at Sioux City East.
Ikenna Okwarabizie has changed the Black Raiders. Teammates call the 6'11"1 senior "Ike" for short.
After coming to East from a school in St. Louis, he had to sit out the first 90 days as a transfer. Since starting to play in January, the Black Raiders are a perfect 8-0.
Ike is averaging over 12 points and 14 rebounds per game and is shooting 57 percent from the field.
He just starting playing a few years ago, and he's still making adjustments.
"It's the speed of the game. Back home it was fast but it wasn't this fast," said Okwarabizie. "When I first came I felt like 'jeez I'm going to die' because the speed is kind of different. Still now, I'm still trying to adjust to the speed."
"He played soccer until he took up basketball. I think the reason he did was they stopped picking him on the teams in Nigeria because he was too big," said East head coach Ras Vanderloo. "He said 'what else can I do?' and he went to basketball and thank God he did."
Ike became friends with players from East while playing AAU basketball in the summer.
Ike's skills have gotten the attention of NCAA division one teams, with nearly every Missouri Valley Conference team offering him a scholarship. Still, he's doing his best just to fit in.
"Most guys his size, his skill level, they could just come in and say give me the ball, give me the ball the entire time," said East senior Chase Kern. "They deserve the ball frankly, but we're really thankful that he's not like that. He'll pass the ball around. We have other guys on the team that can score too."
"All in all, the main inspiration for me, to keep working hard every day, is I want to win the state tournament," said Okwarabizie.
Ike plans to play soccer for East this spring.
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