Onyinyechi Eyisi will play for Prolific Prep Academy of Napa for the final time this week when the Crew heads to Owensboro, Kentucky for the Grind Session High School World Championship.
After that, Eyisi will continue to work on his game as he prepares for taking the next step in his basketball career – heading off to college, where he will play for Fordham University on an athletic scholarship starting in the fall.
Eyisi, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound power forward-center from Lagos, Nigeria, made a verbal commitment to Fordham on Wednesday. Fordham is located in Bronx, New York and plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“I’m grateful and thankful for this opportunity to go and play at a place like Fordham, where the academics are super high and they compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” Eyisi said Wednesday before a practice session at Grace Church of Napa Valley. “I just want to thank my mom (Magdalene Eyisi) for her support and for letting me come over to the United States.
“I’ll be going to a good academic school and also a Division I basketball school. I just want to strive to continue to get better. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been blessed with.”
Eyisi is in his third year with Prolific Prep, which plays a national tournament and showcase schedule. After attending Justin-Siena High School for two years, he transferred to Napa Christian Campus of Education and is enrolled as a senior. All 15 players from Prolific Prep, which is now in its fourth year, are students and enrolled at Napa Christian.
“I’m really proud of him, because he’s progressed so much over the last three years,” said Billy McKnight, Prolific Prep’s head coach. “We got him as a sophomore and he’s developed a good shot. He’s got a really good understanding of how to play.
“He works hard – that’s the type of kid he is. He works hard in the classroom. He’s obviously very athletic. He can dunk around the rim very easily. He’s a good athlete. He’ll block shots. He’ll set good picks. He sprints real well in transition.”
Eyisi and the Crew (25-7 overall) open the Grind Session High School World Championship on Friday against St. Louis Christian. There are 16 teams in the event, which is being played at the Owensboro Sportscenter March 8-11 and has a single-elimination format.
Also in the field:
Bella Vista Prep (Arizona), Tennessee Prep, Victory Rock Prep (Florida), Trinity International (Nevada), Athlete Institute (Canada), West Oaks (Florida), Hillcrest Prep (Arizona), Lincoln Academy (Georgia), Aspire Academy (Kentucky), The Rock (Florida), Our Saviour Lutheran (New York), Wesley Christian (Kentucky), Orangeville Prep (Canada), and Believe Prep (Tennessee).
Prolific Prep has not played a game since Feb. 25.
“It will be very competitive,” said McKnight. “There’s some really good teams, some really tough teams in it.
“I’ve got high expectations for our guys. If we do our jobs, and we play up to our capabilities, I think we’re going to have a very successful tournament.”
Prolific Prep has a 14-4 record in Grind Session events this season.
“We’re excited,” said Eyisi. “We have everyone healthy. We’re going to have some tough competition.”
Prolific Prep’s 2017 season ended in the semifinals of the Grind Session National Championships with the Crew losing in overtime, 66-64 to Hillcrest Prep at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix.
“We’re hoping this time around we can win the whole thing,” said Eyisi. “Just having the opportunity to go at it again this year, it’s great for our program. Our whole team, we’re excited for that.”
Eyisi scored 13 points in Prolific Prep’s 71-51 win over Aspire Academy and had 10 points in the Crew’s 104-76 win over Hillcrest Prep in January at the Crush in the Valley at American Canyon High.
Eyisi played well for the Crew in a three-game sweep in November at Napa Valley College.
He had 20 points and 15 rebounds in a win over Las Vegas Prep, 127-60. He had eight points and 13 rebounds in a win over Elite Prep of Pasadena, 115-71. He had six points and nine rebounds in a 92-57 win over the Simpson University JV team from Redding.
“I think he’s got a good chance to go in there and play right away,” said McKnight. “He’s going to need to play really well, because he’s going to be playing against great competition.”
The Atlantic 10 has Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Davidson, Saint Joseph’s, VCU, Saint Louis, George Mason, Richmond, Dayton, Duquesne, George Washington, La Salle and Massachusetts.