Through 12 games, Athletes of Tomorrow (GA) currently sits with a 10-2 record.
In AOT’s 10 wins, sophomore Sharife Cooper and junior Isaac Okoro have been sensational. The duo gets the majority of credit and accolades, and deservedly so. They combined to average 33.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game in Atlanta.
Both are dynamic at their respective positions.
Both offer game-changing production.
And both know it wouldn’t be possible without Babatunde Akingbola.
Akingbola is AOT’s defensive-stopper, operating as a silent assassin through 12 EYBL games while becoming an absolutely force in the paint.
Nicknamed 'Stretch', the 6-foot-9 Akingbola was better than ever in Atlanta; the Auburn verbal-commit averaged 5.3 blocks, 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals in AOT’s four wins. While Cooper and Okoro are busy running the offense, Akingbola has been able to focus on his greatest asset as a player; being a stopper.
“That’s one of our biggest pieces,” Cooper said. “(Akingbola) gives our defense so much energy by talking and just being active.”
Akingbola’s energy and activity generally occurs around the bucket, and that’s where Cooper’s appreciation for his big man shows the most. Sure, he blocks a lot of shots. But just by being on the floor, AOT has an advantage.
“He makes it hard for players to score around the rim,” Cooper explained. “He might not block every shot, but he for sure changes every single attempt around the rim.”
Okoro echoed Cooper’s sentiment about Akingbola’s energy, praising his importance to AOT’s red-hot start.
“Babatunde is very important to our team,” Okoro said. “He is the big man in the back that’s always talking and always bringing the energy every game.”
For AOT, Cooper and Okoro’s scoring is crucial. So is the production from BJ Boston, Christian Brown John Wright and Jared Jones.
But AOT would be in a world of trouble without Akingbola. Cooper knows it, and Okoro knows it, and they aren’t shy to admit it.
“He’s a great, unselfish player,” Cooper added.
Okoro was very matter-of-fact when summing up Akingbola’s importance to the soon-to-be 2nd-ranked AOT Running Rebels.
“His (Akingbola) defensive presence is a huge key to our team’s success.
5.3 BPG, 10.0 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 4.8 PPG
Game 1: 7 PTS, 15 REB, 3 STL 8 BLK, 3 FL vs. Team WhyNot
Game 2: 6 PTS, 10 REB, 4 STL, 4 BLK, 3 FL vs Boo Williams
Game 3: 3 PTS, 12 REB, STL, 2 BLK 4 FL vs. Boo Williams
Game 4: 3 PTS, 3 REB, STL, 7 BLK, 3 FL. vs. Team United