DENVER — MSU Denver’s Laolu Oke is not your typical college basketball player. Scoring points doesn’t excite him. So what does you ask? Defense.
"I was like 'okay I’m not that good at it,'" Oke said. "I’m really not elite at this [scoring the basketball]. I told myself, I need to be really elite at something. So I was like let me be really elite at defense."
Twelve conference Defensive Player of the Week Awards later, the sophomore now has his claim to fame.
The former Overland High School standout grabs 14 rebounds per game, and last year tied a school record by ripping down 20 in a single game! Double-digit rebound games are the norm around the Auraria Event Center in Denver.
“I feel like that’s what I should be doing," he said. "That’s what I do. I rebound the ball. When all else fails, get the rebound. I just look at the ball, I time it, I’m always moving so it’s harder to box me out.”
Oke’s teammates have come to expect big night after big night on the glass. Their message, according to Oke? “On to the next one. It’s nothing. It’s nothing big. Do it again. Get every single one if you can.”
Roadrunners head coach Michael Bohl talked about how special Oke’s skills are: “He really cares about his rebounding. He really could care less how many points he scores. He cares more about how many rebounds he gets. It’s sort of a double-edged sword because there’s games where he has 10 or 11 rebounds, which for a normal player it’s like ‘oh my god that’s probably a career-high,’ but for him it’s a down game. You get spoiled with how good he is at doing that.”
He’s also a big shot blocker: "When I do get a block, it feels really good," Oke said. "You just want to stare him down and give him a look like, ‘ No not today!"
And for this rebounding phenom, a pro career may be within his reach.
"Man, it’s going to take a lot of work," he said with a laugh. "I have a lot of work to do! I definitely have to keep on putting in work and having that same mindset every day and maybe that dream will be able to come through."
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