Rebels basketball:

Q&A with UNLV target Goodluck Okonoboh, a force of nature in class of 2014

Okonoboh played well against Dream Vision’s Stephen Zimmerman in the Super 64 at Rancho High

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Courtesy of Adidas Super 64

Goodluck Okonoboh of Mass Rivals boxes out for a rebound during the Adidas Super 64 basketball tournament at Rancho High School, Wednesday, July 24, 2013.

Basketball Recruiting at 2013 Adidas 64

Goodluck Okonoboh of Mass Rivals boxes out for a rebound during the Adidas Super 64 basketball tournament at Rancho High School, Wednesday, July 24, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Goodluck Okonoboh views any point scored against him as an attack on his manhood, so do so at your own risk.

Not too many players are successful at getting past Okonoboh, who’s regarded by many as the best rim protector in the class of 2014. Listed at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, Okonoboh said UNLV is aggressively pursuing him, though that doesn’t make the Rebels unique. Okonoboh has long list of suitors that he plans to sort through after the summer recruiting season wraps up this week in Las Vegas.

In the Super 64 at Rancho High, his team defeated Florida Elite by 12 on Wednesday, and Thursday morning he got the better of Dream Vision big man and fellow UNLV target Stephen Zimmerman, scoring 17 to the 7-footer’s six. However, Dream Vision won the game by 10.

The son of Nigerian-born parents Sylvester and Justine, Okonoboh has quite the story about the origin of his first name. Read through for that plus more from the Massachusetts big man:

What did you think of Stephen Zimmerman?

He’s a really good player. I played with him at Adidas Nation.

Do you look forward to games against guys of his caliber?

Yeah, when I play against OK players, I tend to play down to them. But when I play against players I know are good, highly ranked players, I play a little bit better than usual. I look forward to games like that because I know it’s going to be competitive and fun.

Do you know who some of those top guys are before you play them?

Probably the day before. I’m not really into the Internet stuff, looking at rankings and things, but I see a lot of these guys on the circuit, so I know who’s good and who’s not.

What’s the list of schools you’re interested in?

I don’t have a list. Everybody that’s recruiting me, I have an interest in. I have no favorites. I haven’t even started thinking about college.

When do you think you’ll take the next step in your recruitment?

Beginning of the school year. I have to really sit down with my family and see what they want to do. We decided to wait until after the AAU season to get into that.

Do you want to stay on the East Coast or could you see yourself at a place like UNLV?

I’m open to everybody. It’s just the best fit. Location has nothing to do with anything.

What do you know about the UNLV program?

I’m friends with Khem Birch and he likes it a lot. I don’t really know too much but I’m still learning about a lot of programs.

What’s your relationship with Birch?

He’s just a good friend. He went to Notre Dame Prep (in Fitchburg, Mass.). We played against each other a lot and we have a lot of mutual friends.

Can we hear the story about your first name?

Long story short: When my dad came to America, I was in my mom’s stomach. My mom was nine months pregnant and my dad was a taxi driver at the time. One day for work, he picked up three guys in black hoodies and he knew something was wrong that day. He ended up taking them to their destination and when they got there, he figured out it was a dead end. One of the guys for no reason shot my dad in the chest with a .22 caliber gun. And a .22 caliber bullet, when it hits you, it travels all around your body and the bullet slightly pierced his heart. He was in the hospital, it wasn’t looking good. The doctors said it would be rare if he makes it. My mom put him on life support for one day, and the next day everything was running fine. And the next week I was born, so he named me Goodluck because not everyone’s lucky enough to be a father.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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