By: Teddy Caputo
With Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley and Idris Taqee no longer on the team this season, the Bonnies are looking for the next player(s) to step up as a leader and be a dynamic scoring options for them. One guy who is more than ready for that challenge is Amadi Ikpeze.
Ikpeze has been a solid contributor for the Bonnies in the paint over the past two seasons. During his freshman year, he played in 24 games, averaging 2.3 points per game, 1.9 rebounds per game and 9.2 minutes per game. In his sophomore season, he played in 34 games and averaged 4.5 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game and 14.1 minutes per game. Ikpeze talked about what he did to improve his game last season.
“I improved mainly by knowing my spots on the court,” said Ikpeze. “I’ve become more confident and efficient scoring wise, and I’ve continued to learn the system, both offense and defense, to become a better player.”
Ikpeze talked about how he can carry his improvement from last year into this upcoming season.
“I can definitely look back at it by watching tape and seeing what I do good on the court vs. what I do bad on the court and going from there,” said Ikpeze. “Starting the last 14 games of the season definitely gave me a lot of confidence leading into this season.”
The Bonnies finished last year with a 26-8 regular season record, going 14-4 in conference play and having their first NCAA tournament win since 1970. Their stellar season has many fans expecting them to keep up the performance this year. Ikpeze, however, isn’t worried, saying, “I don’t see any pressure from last year’s season because it is a new season. We’re 0-0. We had a great season last year and we did great things like making the tournament and winning the play-in game against UCLA, but we’re focused on being 1-0 at the beginning of November.”
Ikpeze’s confidence going into this season is nothing but a good thing for a new-look Bonnies who have five new players that will need some guidance from the veterans on the team. Ikpeze spoke about his role on the team as a leader and a veteran player alongside seniors Courtney Stockard, Nelson Kaputo and LaDarien Griffin.
“Being the main voices in the locker room, we definitely have to lead by example and make sure we are giving it 100% in practice every day,” said Ikpeze. “That’s really where they are going to pay the most attention to when looking for what to do right and wrong.”
One new player who may look to Ikpeze for guidance is freshman center Osun Osunniyi. “You can’t teach height. That’s what I’ve been told a lot in my life,” said Ikpeze. “With Osun alongside me this year, we’re taller and will be more of a contribution to our team and a threat to others.”
A game Ikpeze is most looking forward to on the Bonnies’ schedule is against the University of Buffalo in the Reilly Center mainly because Buffalo is his hometown. Ikpeze added, “I’m excited for every game to show people how much better I’ve gotten and show them what I can do on the court.”
Ikpeze will continue to try and show the country how much better he has gotten over the offseason in their next game against Georgia State University in the Cayman Islands Classic on November 19.
Picture Courtesy: GoBonnies