I guess you can say that the third time is a charm for Tom Izzo this offseason. With Enoch Boakye he has added his third five-star recruit this summer and probably is on the best recruiting run he has ever had at Michigan State. For the massive center from the 2022 class, he has traveled north of the border and with that secured one of the best Canadian prospects in recent years. Already possessing an NBA level body and thinking seriously about a future in the pros, Boakye seems like a candidate to reclassify. He might join Emoni Bates in doing so and give MSU a premier chance to compete for the 2021-2022 NCAA championship. Let‘s dive into what Boakye brings to the table and what the green and white faithful can expect from the newest Spartan.
Enoch Boakye‘s prep school coach George Aramide got in contact with David Thomas, Michigan State‘s director of basketball operations, before the Spartans got into Boakye‘s recruitment. Thomas — who just like Boakye is a native of Brampton, Ontario — once got Aramide‘s team tickets to see a game at the Breslin Center and to return the favor, Aramide told him to keep an eye on a kid from his team. Boakye, who‘s parents are originally from Ghana, sees Aramide as his mentor and considering he is responsible for making the first contact with MSU you can already get a glimpse why. Boakye is a true blue chip prospect, incredibly well spoken yet also cheerful and humble. He possesses incredible size, raw strength usually unmatched in his age group and has the developing skills to go with it. His star really rose during the 2019 U16 FIBA Americas Championship in Brazil, a tournament in which he helped Canada win a silver medal.
Boakye has his sights on the NBA already, which isn‘t a surprise considering his first class physical measurables and all the raw talent he possesses. Thinking of the Canadian school system and the fact that he is already 17 (despite currently being a member of 2022 recruiting class) it is far from a long shot that he will consider reclassifying, just like fellow MSU recruit Emoni Bates, the headliner of Michigan State‘s 2022 class and by all accounts one of the best prospects to come along in years, maybe decades. Boakye said that Bates‘ commitment to the Spartans has played a role in his decision as did Tom Izzo traveling across the border numerous times to see him play. He has also said that he admired the way Jaren Jackson Jr. blossomed at MSU and how Izzo likes to use the traditional post a lot. Boakye was also recruited by Arizona, Texas Tech, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky and BYU, among others.
What his high school coach has to say
“He’s very, very athletic, plays above the rim, dunks absolutely everything and he has great footwork. 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 a young Chris Webber. That’s who he reminds me of.”
-George Aramide, Head coach George Harris Prep (ON)
What Enoch Boakye has to say
“I like contact. I would say I‘m a mixture of Joel Embiid and Shaquille O‘Neal. That‘s the type of player I would say I am. Old school, I like contact. I don‘t shy away from it.”
-Enoch Boakye, George Harris Prep (ON)
High school, AAU and international competition
From a young age Boakye had his sights set on playing professional basketball, especially when he started to develop physically and got special tutoring from Aramide, his high school and AAU coach. Aramide was keen on taking Boakye all across Canada and the United States in order to have him face the best competition possible and compare himself with the best players of his age group. He actually has played with Bates at camps before and the two know each other. Considering that Boakye is a big man it is an even bigger plus that he‘s got to face as many good opponents as he has. A lot of young big men tower over their counterparts and many of them get along by just being a lot bigger than anybody else. Boakye, though, has proven himself already against elite level competition and on the international stage, too. A member of various Canadian youth national teams, he really caught the eyes of the scouting world in the 2019 U16 FIBA Americas Championship. In the Quarterfinal against Mexico he scored 19 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in only 23 minutes, and added 12 points and 13 rebounds against the USA in the final. Overall, Boakye averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game for George Harris Prep during his junior season.
Standing 6-foot-10-inches tall and a rock solid 240 pounds, Boakye has to be considered a menacing physical presence at the high school level and that should only continue in college. Apparently he is still growing and he might actually end up an inch or two longer than he is now. Considering his body still isn‘t fully developed yet in general (or truly rounded out if you will), it‘s far from a long shot to pencil him in at about 260 pounds of solid muscle by the time he arrives in East Lansing. He is a very good athlete who moves well for his size and has the type of raw strength that can just make plays through defenders. Boakye is said to have a 7-foot-6-inch wingspan and uses his long arms to his advantage on both sides of the floor.
As impressive as Boakye is physically he still has to be considered a bit raw on the offensive end. It has nothing to do with his overall movement skills, his hands, his touch or his physical abilities but more with experience and some X‘s and O‘s stuff. You can tell that he is working on a lot of different things — like post moves, dribble drives or face up opportunities — but he isn‘t fully confident in most of them. Boakye is still showing great potential on individual plays and once he gets more comfortable in his own body and with the type of scoring game he is envisioning he could be a terror for opponents to keep out of the lane. Especially his face up game looks a lot more polished and a lot smoother than typically is the case for a center of Boakye‘s size. He ability to handle the ball also shows in transition when he grabs a rebound and then pushes the ball up the court by himself. While a nice skill to have, he has a long way to go until it can really be considered a plus at the next level. As of now he kind of has a tunnel vision when rolling down the court, putting his head down and not even looking to find an open teammate. That doesn‘t mean that it isn‘t an absolutely impressive feat for a player his size to dribble the length of the court and actually finish impressively most of the time.
In the post Boakye mostly uses basic moves but they are very effective. He can overpower an opponent in the lane and create space with his wide body yet also rarely panics, even if double teams arrive. He still takes his time to get off the best shot possible and rarely rushes his moves or his shots. It helps that he possesses an incredible reach which makes it possible for him to finish above and over almost any opposing defender. Boakye could do a better job of fighting for position before the ball gets into his hands yet there is no reason to believe that he won‘t figure this out over time. His power, wide base and tree trunks for legs won‘t be easily moved off the spot by the time he understands that not many people can match his combination of strength and size. His mass of course works in his favor when going for offensive rebounds and his second jump is very very impressive for a kid that big. When he‘s got deep position, Boakye is very aggressive attacking the rim and wants to dunk everything. And often actually does.
While really big and strong, Boakye also impresses with fairly nimble feet and seems to have a natural feel for many of his moves. Passing is a work in progress right now as he shows a willingness to dish out of the post but hasn‘t shown tremendous vision while doing it. Same could be said for his outside shooting but both he and his coaches have stated that they are working on his jumper a lot. His free throw shooting technique looks solid and if he works out a few kinks like the left hand position he might be able to develop it into a strength.
Right now Boakye has to be considered more of a role player on offense without really having the type of scoring game that premier offensive talents bring to the table. A lot of young centers are perfectly fine with rebounding, setting good picks and picking up baskets from dump offs and alley oops. Boakye could already do that at a very high level right now and it‘s certainly a role needed to be filled next to a talent like Bates. It would be a shame though if he wouldn‘t look to develop a lot of the good raw talents he has and refine them to a point where he could be a considered a true offensive option.
The first thing that jumps off the screen when watching Boakye on defense is his shot blocking. That‘s not a surprise since this is mostly true for almost every long and athletic high school player yet Boakye isn‘t just getting by here on size or length alone. He moves his feet very well and shows the natural mobility needed to effectively shut down driving lanes. When he goes for the block he gets a little overzealous at times and smart opponents could easily use his aggressiveness against him. Boakye doesn‘t need to jump as much as he does and he will have to learn how to use the basic advantage of his wingspan more. I‘m sure Izzo will show him plenty of videos of Jaren Jackson Jr. who was incredibly advanced at being a rim protector with his presence alone (rather than his athleticism or jumping ability). With that said, Boakye is already moving in that direction and has developed in this area a great deal in recent years.
As already mentioned, for a player of his size Boakye moves really well around the court and physically it shouldn‘t be a problem for him to at least be solid in defending a pick and roll on the perimeter. He isn‘t consistent enough with it yet and from time to time also gets caught ball watching but that isn‘t unusual at all for a player as young as he is.
His wide body is also of great use to Boakye as a defensive rebounder. Opponents will have a tough time getting around him and the Canadian is also showing true effort to box out his immediate area or opponent (hardly a given for a young player with his size and athleticism). Boakye could be a little more aggressive when going after rebounds, attacking the ball a bit more, but he definitely has plus potential in this area.
If you would describe Enoch Boakye as raw it wouldn‘t be fair to some of the advanced skills he already possesses and to how natural some of his moves appear. If you describe him as advanced, though, it wouldn‘t quite be true either. So Boakye would fit somewhere in the middle, maybe tending a bit to the raw side right now. Even if his role in college and later in the pros might prove to be more on the complementary side, this shouldn‘t be considered a slight at all. Boakye has a combination of strength, size, power and physical ability that not a lot of people at his age can match and using that special mix alone will make him an impact player on both sides for MSU. Even if he never really takes the next step of becoming a well-rounded offensive option. It‘s way too early to say that this isn‘t possible for him at some point in the future, though.