With the 47th pick of the 2017 NBA draft the Indiana Pacers selected, Ike Anigbogu a 6’10” 250 lb 18-year-old center from UCLA.
“I wasn’t trying to think about where I was going to get picked,” said Anigbogu [AN-IG-BOW-GOO] after being selected. “It’s just the right program. I had a great workout with the Pacers, and I have TJ, so basically, this is the number one pick in my heart.”
Many mock drafts had Ike going much higher (ESPN’s Chad Ford had him at the Pacers #18 pick in his final mock) but fears of the knee injury being a future issue scared teams away.
Ike (easier to type each time than Anigbogu) played in 29 games for UCLA as a freshman this past season, having missed some time due to issues with his knee. He had surgery to repair a right knee meniscus tear before the season and missed the team’s first five games. Knee issues plagued him through his senior year of high school and the concerns were enough for NBA teams for him to drop from middle of the first round to middle of the second. Will Ike overcome these injuries or follow the Jonathan Bender path? We shall see.
Ike, who averaged 4.7 pts, 4.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in only just over 13 minutes, is considered an elite defender with outstanding athleticism albeit extremely raw on offense. This isn’t a pick that will pay off right away, but the potential is there for Anigbogu to eventually become a starter in the NBA.
Ford had this to say about Anigbogu, a top-50 recruit going into college, in his draft profile, “He has a 7’6″ wingspan and built like a tank. An aggressive rebounder and shot-blocker. He already has an NBA motor, now just needs to add offensive skill.”
All this at only 18 years old, the youngest in this year’s draft. He doesn’t turn 19 until October and already has an NBA body. You don’t see a kid this strong coming out of college very often.
“Just energy, just a guy who is willing to put it all on the floor,” said Anigbogu on what he brings to the Pacers. “Do all the dirty work, rim protection, rebounding, mobility on the perimeter, being able to switch some possessions, everything like that. Just a guy who’s going to continue to work on his game and evolve.”
Ike ranked third on the Bruins in blocked shots while his minutes were half that of the two players above him. His mix of elite shot blocking instincts, hard screens and toughness could make him an ideal enforcer type in a few years.
Weaknesses that he’ll need time to fix include his propensity to rack up fouls at an enormous rate (2.5 fouls per game in just 13 minutes) and picking up some offensive skills to make him less of a negative on that end.
Consensus from most reviews after the draft on Ike: a steal if he can stay healthy. He’s a top-25 talent with great defensive skills, just needs to improve his offense. A potential player comparison I see right away: DeAndre Jordan or Hassan Whiteside.
One coach that knows Ike says he’s not afraid to disrespect another player which is something that’s perhaps very needed on this Pacers team. He’ll slam the ball on somebody and let em know about it.
Side Note: Ike wore #13 at UCLA… wonder what he’ll wear as a Pacer…
The Pacers seem to be going younger at their big position. First round pick in TJ Leaf is 6’10” and looks to get minutes backing up Thad Young right away. While Ike will probably struggle to see the floor this year behind Myles Turner, Al Jefferson, Kevin Seraphin and Rakeem Christmas. With his youth and raw abilities, he may spend a lot of time with the Mad Ants early on before getting a chance to play. Don’t expect to see a lot of Anigbogu early in his career.
The Pacers did decline the team option on Lavoy Allen however making the path for playing time a little closer. Maybe Jermaine O’Neal can hand off some post play knowledge to Ike while he’s tutoring Myles Turner this summer.
Anigbogu, a California native, played AAU ball along with Leaf, then they went to college together at UCLA and now Ike joins him in the pros with the Pacers.
Draft Express highlights on Ike (“Enforcer”) Anigbogu:
Quick Player Profile:
Pros: Quick on his feet, fast off the floor, changes direction well, constant on the offensive glass and high energy. Definite defensive presence. Great in the pick and roll both defensively and offensively.
Cons: Touch around the rim, not as explosive in traffic, struggles with passes below the chest, jump shot needs work (only took eight jump shots the entire season), free throw percentage was 53.5%, post skills, maybe too eager to block shots leaving his teammates exposed, and fouls often. Many of these symptoms are common among young big men in the NBA.