Former Temple forward Obi Enechionyia trains for NBA Draft

Former forward Obi Enechionyia makes a layup during the Owls’ 63-57 loss to Penn State in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on March 14 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pennsylvania. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

On Thursday, former forward Obi Enechionyia will walk across the stage in McGonigle Hall during the Klein College of Media and Communication commencement ceremony and receive a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.

Across the street at the Liacouras Center is where Enechionyia displayed 3-point shooting ability that he hopes will translate to the professional level.

Enechionyia will enter the 2018 NBA Draft on June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in his senior season. Enechionyia also shot 35 percent on treys, which is about a 3 percent decrease from his sophomore and junior years.

Enechionyia, who didn’t receive an invitation to the NBA Draft combine, doesn’t know when he could be selected in the draft, but he said he has enjoyed the pre-draft process.

“It’s great to be able to just focus on basketball,” Enechionyia said. “Because that’s my job for the next however many years, so it’s really good to wake up, eat and go play basketball.”

Enechionyia has been preparing for the NBA Draft at Impact Basketball, a development facility in Las Vegas for players pursuing basketball careers and professionals who want to polish their skills during the offseason.

NBA champions like former Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett and former Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups are some of the many NBA players who once trained at Impact.

Enechionyia said he has been working with Andrew Moore, a former University of Southern California player who is Impact’s program coordinator and director of player development.

Enechionyia gets to the gym to practice on-court skills and perform strength and conditioning workouts at 8:30 a.m. After he finishes around 11 a.m., Enechionyia rests at home until about 3 p.m. Then, he heads back to work on his shot, ball-handling and other skills until about for about two hours.

Enechionyia said his biggest focus is making his 3-point shot more consistent, especially from NBA range. The college 3-point distance is three feet shorter than the NBA’s distance.

Shooting consistently became an issue for Enechionyia in the final two years of his career. In the first seven games of his junior season, Enechionyia averaged 21 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. He only scored 15 points or more six times during the rest of the season.

To start the 2017-18 season, Enechionyia received MVP honors at the Gildan Charleston Classic after Temple won the tournament against Clemson University on Nov. 19. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during the three-game tournament.

But Enechionyia also had 16 games this season where he shot 25 percent or worse from 3-point range.

Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said teams began to guard Enechionyia differently by running him off the 3-point line.

Alston added that Enechionyia is also sometimes not selfish enough. Instead of being aggressive, Enechionyia looked to get Alston and sophomore guard Quinton Rose, Temple’s leading scorer, involved in the offense.

“Everything that is wrong can be fixed,” Alston said. “That’s why I feel like he has a good opportunity to play professionally, because all of his issues can be fixed.”

Before he went to Las Vegas, Enechionyia participated in the Portsmouth Invitational, a four-day, 12-game tournament from April 11-14 in Portsmouth, Virginia. The tournament gives college seniors the opportunity to play in front of representatives from every NBA team.

Enechionyia averaged 5.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his three appearances. He shot 33 percent from the field, including 1-for-12 from 3-point range.

Enechionyia said that he had meetings with representatives from the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards. The teams asked Enechionyia about his life and upbringing, he said.

“I know all of the teams that wanted to interview me know pretty much everything about me as they possibly can without meeting me in person,” Enechionyia said. “They all know how I play, how my game will translate to the next level. … So I knew that was coming.”

Enechionyia’s agent, Pedro Power of YouFirst Sports, has several clients who play basketball overseas.

But Enechionyia isn’t considering playing internationally yet. He has his eyes set on the NBA, even if that means fighting for a roster spot through the NBA Summer League.

Coach Fran Dunphy thinks a team would like the 6-foot-10 forward because of his ability to hit 3-pointers.

“The game has changed dramatically,” Dunphy said. “Very few teams are playing with power forwards. They’re playing with stretch forwards, and that’s why there’s a number of teams who do have some great interest in him. So hopefully it will pan out for him.”

Tom Ignudo
can be reached at thomas.ignudo@temple.edu Or you can follow Tom on Twitter @TomIgnudo Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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