Michigan State basketball target Enoch Boakye could bring 'underdog' mentality to Spartans

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Not everyone buys in to the idea of recruiting momentum.

But right now, in the college basketball world, it’s getting difficult to deny that’s exactly what’s happening at Michigan State.

Enoch Boakye (right), a five-star center Mississauga, Ontario, stands for a picture with former Pistons center Andre Drummond.

It began in late June when Emoni Bates, the Ypsilanti junior who is the top-rated player in the nation regardless of class, announced his commitment to the Spartans. A little more than a week later came the commitment from Max Christie, the top-rated shooting guard in the 2021 class and the 13th-ranked player in the country, who joined four-star guard Pierre Brooks, who committed in April.

Four-star Farmington guard Jaden Akins also included Michigan State in his final six schools this week with many believing he’ll become a Spartan, while 6-foot-10 junior Enoch Boakye of Mississauga, Ontario, is ready to announce his commitment next week with Michigan State as the perceived leader as Tom Izzo and his staff are riding quite the wave.

“It’s definitely trending in the right direction,” Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans said after Christie’s commitment. “I haven't seen Michigan State really this optimistic for things on the recurring trails since I've been involved in the sport.”

The connection to Boakye is the latest, and one that is fairly intriguing.

Playing in Canada, it can often can be difficult for a prospect to gain as much attention as those who play in the United States. It’s been no different for Boakye, who is rated a five-star prospect by 247Sports and is rated the No. 18 player in the 2022 class. However, he isn’t rated by Rivals (he’s listed as a four-star prospect on that site) nor is he among the top 60 players at ESPN.

It’s certainly provided him with motivation, his high school coach says.

“He’s kind of an underdog because he's from Canada,” George Harris Prep coach George Aramide said. “He’s not on ESPN’s list, he's on the Rivals list, and he's pretty upset about it. He wants to be on those things.”

Whether he’s on those lists or not, it has hardly affected the interest the top programs are showing in the emerging star. In addition to Michigan State, Boakye has offers from the likes of Gonzaga, Arizona, Texas Tech and UCLA.

He’s set to announce his decision on Tuesday and Aramide says the finalists are Michigan State, Gonzaga and Texas Tech. And while there is plenty to like about each school, Aramide said the Spartans are the coach's favorite of the group.

“Tom and the crew down at Michigan State have been wonderful; they've been absolutely amazing,” Aramide said. “It’s definitely somewhere that I would love for him to go to because it's right around the corner and we can go see all the games. Obviously, the Big Ten is a big platform, big exposure, and those guys just know how to recruit. They know how to show people they love them. I’ve been super impressed by Michigan State.”

If Boakye ultimately chooses Michigan State, he’ll be showing up in East Lansing with a body that’s NBA ready, Aramide says, and a chip on his shoulder to prove he’s among the best big men around.

“He wants to go to college and prove that he's one of the best,” Aramide said. “I think he feels like college would be a great platform to show the world that he is probably one of the best bigs in the United States.”

The key part from Aramide in that statement is Boakye has every intention of playing in college with no plans to make a straight jump to the professional ranks, regardless of what the rules may allow at that point.

There’s also the possibility Boakye eventually could become a member of the 2021 class, something that is on the table for Bates, as well.

“We are sticking in the ’22 class for now, but he may have enough credits to graduate early,” Aramide said. “If it works out then we may reclass up to 2021, but for now he's in the 2022 class.”

Aramide said he knew all of this was coming for Boakye two years ago, when at 6-7, the athleticism began to catch up with Boakye’s physical growth. Since then, Aramide has been taking Boakye to any notable camp possible in the United States while making sure he’s playing top competition on the AAU circuit.

Along the way, Boakye has added another 3 inches and has become a dominant big man.

“He’s very, very athletic, plays above the rim, dunks absolutely everything and he has great footwork,” Aramide said. “He's actually a great teammate and a lot of his teammates love to play with him. He's a great locker room guy, knows how to motivate his teammates without being negative. He’s a really good kid and I’ve had so much joy coaching him over the last few years here, especially through high school and middle school.

“He’s pretty elite and my comparison is young Chris Webber. That's who he reminds me of.”


Twitter: @mattcharboneau