With the college basketball season right around the corner, it is a great time to be a Saint Louis Billikens fan. Francis Okoro is in for a huge season as the team chases the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Big Season Coming For Francis Okoro
If you are a Saint Louis Billikens fan, you know the name Francis Okoro very well. This upcoming season, however, is when the rest of the world will get to know the big man. After an incredible year last year, expectations are sky-high for Okoro and he is ready to roll.
It is hard to call this coming season a potential breakout year for Okoro because that happened last year. Looking at his numbers it is hard to improve upon his great stats, but the nation needs to look out for Okoro.
Road to the Show
Francis Okoro absolutely dominated at the high school level playing for Normal West High School in Normal, Illinois. He received attention from colleges all around the country and ultimately decided between Oregon, Illinois and Purdue.
It is pretty rare for a kid the size of Okoro to show up at a gym in central Illinois, so gyms were packed to see the 6-foot-9 from Imo, Nigeria. The eyes of curious students from the area turned into the eyes of recruiters very quickly. He had a lot to learn but he had a ton of potential, and that is finally beginning to show.
Okoro decided to reclass up and leave Normal West a year early. He was no stranger to being away from home, so he decided to branch out and commit to Oregon. As a freshman, he had an important role with the team starting 22 games. The big man was a key part of the No. 12 seed that made the Sweet 16 as a starter. He grew in many ways, and he got to learn from current NBA player and former teammate, Payton Pritchard.
His role as a freshman was not as big as he may have hoped. Okoro was playing a whole new style of basketball where he was strictly used for his size. He did not even attempt 100 shots in the whole season. Hoping for a larger role, he stuck around for his sophomore season. He improved on every level but was never a go-to option in the Duck’s offense.
Saint Louis picked up Okoro as a transfer and they were very lucky. Billiken nation was finally introduced to him on the court for the first time last season and his year off paid dividends. He averaged 10.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and his free throw percentage went up just under 30% from the previous year. Just like that, it is time for year two with the Billikens.
Chasing The Top
Not only does Francis Okoro have high expectations, but so does the entire Saint Louis Billikens team. They were slotted as the No. 2 team in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll, just 17 points behind Dayton. Saint Louis received seven first-place votes.
Along with Okoro, the team returns four starters. Aspirations this time around in the Lou are much higher than an NIT bid.
Okoro has been selected to the A-10 Preseason Third Team, as well as the All-Defensive Team. Saint Louis has the most players in the A-10 selected All-Conference. ESPN has the Billikens outside of their top-25 preseason poll, but they did receive 36 votes. Dayton is the only A-10 team to make it at No. 24.
Playing basketball in March is fun and this is the year the Billikens will do it on the big stage. Expect Okoro to be a key piece to the success of this team as he may have a First-Team type of year in the A-10.
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