Jesusemilore Talodabijesu Ojeleye.
That’s his full name, but the Southern Methodist University product goes by Semi - who happens to be just as unique as his name.
What makes him so unique?
For one, Ojeleye’s college experience did not shape out the way he and many others expected. Ojeleye was named the 2013 Parade Magazine National Player of the Year coming out of Ottawa High School in Kansas. He accepted a scholarship from coaching legend Mike Krzyzewski and Duke University, where he spent the first two years of his college career.
However, Semi spent most of his freshman season on the bench behind current NBA players Jabari Parker (Milwaukee Bucks) and Rodney Hood (Utah Jazz). His second season was even more uneventful as Justice Winslow (Miami Heat) stole the stage.
Semi decided to transfer to Southern Methodist University, where he would have to sit out a full year due to NCAA rules. During his year off, Semi said he was able to learn who he was off the court, which in turn helped him mature and find himself on the court.
After waiting three full years to show the world his talent, Ojeleye was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year. The Mustang averaged 18.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 34.1 minutes per game.
But his college journey isn’t what makes him that unique.
Semi’s body, athleticism, and versatility is.
Semi is nothing short of a physical specimen. The 22-year-old was measured at 6’7” and 241 lbs. at the NBA Combine, which is slightly smaller than LeBron James and slightly bigger than Draymond Green. Just about all 241 lbs. of him are muscle, too, as he measured in at less than 6% body fat. Furthermore, Ojeleye posted a 40.5” max vertical (the same as Donovan Mitchell), which ranks fifth among this year’s combine participants.
Given Semi’s size and athletic ability, he is a combo forward who can provide versatility on both the offensive and defensive end.
At 241 lbs., Ojeleye has little trouble getting to the rim. He seeks contact at the rim, and his strength allows him to absorb and play through it. Ojeleye averaged 6.3 free-throw attempts per game, where he shot 78.5%.
Yet, Semi excels more on the perimeter.
In fact, Semi shot 42.4% from three point range last season, and he was even better on catch-and-shoot attempts at over 50%. He ran a lot of pick-and-pop plays, where he led the NCAA in points per play at 2.19 points.
He’s a versatile defender as well.
Again, Semi’s strength allows him to hold his own around the rim. However, his footwork and lateral quickness are much more impressive, especially for his size. In the NBA, Semi should be able to guard both forward positions and be able to switch on guards at times.
Here is DraftExpress.com’s breakdown on the Mustang’s strengths.
As for what Ojeleye doesn’t do well, the list is short.
While Semi has the ability and strength to get to the rim, he relies on his right hand far too much. In the NBA, it’s important to be able to shoot around the rim with both hands, and Semi has yet to prove his left handed touch.
Ojeleye could also improve his passing and decision making. At times, he drives the lane and forces a bad shot rather than kicking it out to an open shooter. Statistically, his assists per game were the same as his turnovers per game, so the 22-year-old has room to improve as a decision maker.
Ultimately, Ojeleye doesn’t have many weaknesses. Here is DraftExpress.com’s comprehensive video on the prospect’s deficiencies.
Although Ojeleye spent his workout in Indiana with many probable second rounders, many believe the Southern Methodist product to be a mid-to-late first round pick, including myself.
Semi would be a great fit in Indiana, but the same could be said for any team as the entire league is scouring for versatile defenders who can shoot from the perimeter like Ojeleye.
If Kevin Pritchard and the Indiana Pacers are looking for a player who can make an immediate impact and fill a hole on the depth chart, Semi Ojeleye is one of a few who may be available at 18.
The 2017 NBA Draft is June 22nd at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.