MIAMI, FL – After a disappointing end to the season for head coach Jeremy Ballard and the FIU Panthers Men’s Basketball team, things only got more complicated. They lost their main star, Denver Jones, and now have to look towards the incoming signing class, transfer portal splashes, and even the guys on the team that did not see much action last year.
Prior to the signing of Jonathan Aybar, the Panthers decided to bring in Okechukwu Okeke from Tallahassee Community College. Standing at 6’9, the sophomore and JUCO transfer averaged 8.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, and shot 65.4% from the field. Okeke brings size to the Panthers and allows them to rotate between Sanogo and Aybar throughout the game.
Some @FIUHoops news 👀
FIU lands a JUCO commit in 6’9 center Okechukwu Okeke from Tallahassee Community College!
Held offers from Kansas State, Arizona State, Maryland, Memphis, Tulsa, Charlotte and others!
One of the top JUCO products in the country! pic.twitter.com/AA0G67FUZs
— Jonathan Mayer (@jmayer2002) April 17, 2023
Okeke had offers from multiple teams across the country such as Kansas State, Memphis, and Maryland, but chose FIU out of them all. Okeke was the 15th-ranked JUCO player according to jucorecruting.com. As you could expect, Okeke is one of the more highly recruited JUCO players in the transfer portal, so the fact that FIU was able to land a player of his caliber is impressive and goes to show how important recruiting is for them.
Still, the biggest signing that FIU has made thus far is the big man from the North Florida Ospreys, Jonathan Aybar. The 6’9 A-SUN all-freshman selection with the Ospreys averaged 8.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in the 2022-2023 campaign.
Welcome to the 305, @JonathanAybar15 🌴🏀✍️
The legacy continues, let’s work 🤝#PawsUp | #Toughest40 pic.twitter.com/aeANAvLXh7
— FIU Men's Basketball (@FIUHoops) April 26, 2023
Aybar’s most notable performance was against the Stetson Hatters where he had a double-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, and was nine for eleven from the field. He has the true potential to be the replacement for Nick Guadarama, or even someone who can be the backup to Mohamed Sanogo.
Something interesting to note is that Aybar will be following in the footsteps of his father, who was also a member of the FIU Men’s basketball team from 1996-1999, so it is nice to see the son of a former player follow in the footsteps of his father and join the college team he used to play for.
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