At the time, Isaac Okoro couldn’t have guessed that one of his greatest disappointments would be the springboard for accomplishing his ultimate goal.
A year ago, after a dominant summer with one of the top teams in the grueling Nike Elite Youth Basketball League, AOT (Ga.), Okoro was even more dominant during his senior season at McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), the country's top high school team, which finished 32-0 and won a state title.
Still, when McDonald’s listed its much-anticipated roster of All-Americans, Okoro was left off.
“I was upset, but I guess it was a blessing for me,” Okoro said. “It showed me that I need to work 10 times harder. Since that day I just started being in the gym late nights, early mornings getting better.”
A year later, Okoro is often dubbed the best two-way player in the NBA draft and is projected to go No. 6 overall in Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft.
At 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, Okoro is a relentless defender with invaluable instincts and a high ceiling on the offensive end because of his athleticism and feel on the wing.
This season at Auburn, Okoro averaged 12.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and two assists a game.
The draft is scheduled for June 25, but teams are reportedly encouraging the NBA to push it back to at least August.
Okoro has already signed with Young Money APAA Sports and Lifestyle Sports Agency, and though NCAA rules give him until June 3 to withdraw his name from the draft and retain his college eligibility, Okoro said his mind is already made up.
“I’ll be officially in the draft,” Okoro said. “I haven’t posted it on social media, but I feel like it will be the best move for me. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to have a chance to make it to the NBA. It feels so surreal right now, but I also know once draft day comes, I’m just gonna be ready for the moment.”
Watch SI's full interview with Isaac Okoro above.