After a season and a half as a rarely-used energy big man on loaded Duke teams – playing 143 total minutes and scoring 46 total points – 6' 7” 235-pound Semi Ojeleye has found a home in Dallas at SMU. The versatile forward, who had to sit out the 2015-16 season as a redshirt transfer, ranks third in the AAC in scoring at 18.2 points per game and has been a key cog in SMU's tremendous season, while working his way into NBA Draft conversations.
Ojeleye, whose parents hail from Nigeria (father a doctor, mother a nurse) has turned himself into a legitimate stretch option as a mismatch four. He's shooting 42% from three on a healthy 138 attempts (five per game), a product of his strong work ethic and focus, after shooting just one 3-pointer per game on average in his time at Duke. A well-spoken, intelligent 22-year-old, Ojeleye doesn't lack in confidence and has an extremely professional approach to the game, and his strong mentality has really showed through 27 games.
Used strictly at the four in SMU's offense, Ojeleye has time and space to get to his jumper off the catch, can shoot off the dribble if run off the line, is nimble enough to attack opposing fours off the bounce with a tough combination of power and quickness, and is dangerous operating in mid-post spots while flashing crisp footwork for a 235-pounder. Ojeleye is scoring 23.5 points per 40 minutes shooting 50% from two and 42% from three and has an NBA translatable skill set as a mismatch four who may be able to play a pinch of small forward for stretches. Here's a full breakdown of how Ojeleye is able to impact the game for the Mustangs:
Ojeleye has some weaknesses, however, as he's a bit undersized for a power forward even in today's NBA at 6' 7”, and he doesn't make up for it with a freakish reach (6' 10” wingspan) although his jacked 235-pound frame definitely helps. He's somewhat caught between positions on the defensive end as he's not quite big enough to check traditional fours, and while demonstrating solid lateral quickness when fully engaged, doesn't have a ton of experience chasing around NBA-level wings. His instincts on that end have room to improve as well, evident by his very low block and steal rates (partially a product of SMU playing a fair amount of zone). Ojeleye can also add more value on the defensive glass – 5.5 per 40 minutes –, another area where he'll need to bump up his production to play long stretches at the four in the NBA.
Ojeleye's lack of elite size and average standstill leaping hurts him as an interior scorer at the NBA level, and his overall perimeter skill set could use some polish if he wants to play more minutes on the perimeter. Here's a full breakdown of the main areas where Ojeleye has room to improve:
All in all, despite some shortcomings, Ojeleye's mature approach, strength, agility and offensive versatility make him a very intriguing NBA Draft prospect as a small-ball four that can play some three in bigger lineups.
Mike Schmitz is the video analyst for DraftExpress. Follow him on twitter and check out the DraftExpress Video section. He will be breaking down the NBA draft in digital format all year long for us.