SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara men's basketball coach Bob Williams added to an already loaded arsenal for the 2014-15 season with the signing of New York City native Ami Lakoju, a 6-foot-9 power forward, to scholarship papers on Tuesday.
Lakoju played his final two years of high school basketball at St. Luke's School in New Canaan, Conn. He originally signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Fairfield University, but asked for, and was granted, a release from the school.
"When the opportunity to recruit Ami came up, it was just too good to pass up," Williams said. "He has great size and long arms. He is a good shot blocker, good rebounder and a good scorer when he gets the ball in his area. Overall, he has tremendous upside potential."
Lakoju, who is 260 pounds, averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots per game as a senior at St. Luke's. He was named First Team All-Fairchester Athletic Association and Second Team All-New England Class C. As a junior, Lakoju averaged 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per outing and was named Second Team All-FAA.
"He adds bulk and a physical presence to an already deep frontline," Williams said. "Playing and practicing with Big Al (Williams) for a year will be huge for him. Also, on top of the basketball side of things, Ami is a great young man and he comes from a great family."
Lakoju, the son of a minister and a preschool teacher, is excited about his decision to become a Gaucho.
"After my visit, I talked to my parents and told them that UCSB was the place for me," Lakoju said. "I had a real sense of belonging and the guys on the team were great. I want to grow as a player and with four years of hard work I know that UCSB is a place where I can accomplish something special."
Lakoju will join an outstanding core of returnees from a team that went 21-9 in 2012-13. The 2014-15 roster will include Big West Player of the Year and Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American Alan Williams, Honorable Mention All-Big West swingman Michael Bryson, Honorable Mention All-Big West point guard Zalmico Harmon, point guard Eric Childress, and forwards Mitch Brewe and Sam Beeler.
Also expected back are swingman John Green, who missed all but two games in 2012-13 with foot and wrist injuries, two-year starting point guard T.J. Taylor, who missed the entire 2012-13 campaign after hip surgery, and Alex Hart, a 6-foot-10 long-distance shooter, will be a redshirt freshman.
In addition to Lakoju, there will be three other brand new players on the roster next season. In November, the Gauchos signed Gabe Vincent (6-foot-3/Stockton, Calif./St. Mary's HS) and Justin Burks (6-foot-6/Las Vegas, Nev./Arbor View HS) to National Letters of Intent, and in April they added guard DaJuan Smith (6-foot-3/Abbeville, La./Abbeville HS/Mt. San Jacinto J.C.).