By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Jean-Paul Olukemi was making an impact for the Oklahoma State University men’s basketball team during his junior season. He worked his way into the starting lineup and was averaging just under 10 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game. Everything came to a crashing halt on Dec. 31 when Olukemi went down with a torn ACL against Virginia Tech and would miss the rest of the season.
“I was just watching the team play and knowing that I couldn’t put on a jersey was the thing that messed with me the most,” Olukemi said.
Now in his senior season, Olukemi hopes his return can spark the Cowboys to prominence in the Big 12.
Olukemi did receive playing time during Oklahoma State’s foreign tour in Spain, playing in four games. He averaged six points a game with his tournament high being 10 against the Gran Canaria All-Stars on Aug. 14.
“It was nice, I enjoyed it a lot,” Olukemi said. “I wasn’t 100 percent. It was nice getting to play. Work hard and get back into basketball shape. Getting to play over there with guys and get acquainted with everybody was good.”
The senior forward has missed some practice time as he is still recovering. Coach Travis Ford said when healthy he is one of the most physical players on the court.
“He brings us a guy that can score in a variety of ways,” Ford said. “He’s probably one of our top three-point shooters they way he’s been shooting it. He can score inside. He’s an experienced player. A guy that’s been through the Big 12 before and has some decent games in the Big 12. He becomes a big factor with Brian (Williams) being out.”
At 6 feet, 6 inches and weighing 215, Olukemi is one of several players with size, leading the basketball media relations department to adopt the hash-tag #LobStilly.
“We are having a good time with the Lob Stilly thing,” Olukemi said. “I think they set up a Twitter account for that thing. They are enjoying it and the players are enjoying it. We are getting people to be a part of something.”
Before he was injured, Olukemi was coming off a 2010-11 season where he was named to the Big 12 All-Rookie squad. He averaged 11.1 points per game and started 11 games during conference play.
Though he is recovered from his ACL injury, Olukemi could still be in danger of his season being cut short. While in high school, Olukemi took college courses, starting his eligibility — something he wasn’t aware of. Now the senior forward is hoping the NCAA will grant his appeal and give him another semester of eligibility.
“I try not to let it get to me,” Olukemi said. “I go out and talk to the guys every other week and they say they are trying. I’m not going to worry about it and put it in God’s hands.”
Olukemi said he found out about the situation when he was getting lunch on campus earlier this year.
“I walked into the student union and someone said ‘J.P. you’re ineligible next year?’ I said, What? I had no clue and called coach to find out what was going on.”
Ford said he is still waiting to hear the result
“I just got to believe,” Ford said. “I know the case. I know other cases that they’ve given guys years. We don’t need a year, he’s just asking for the semester.”