WSU signs Rueben Chinyelu from NBA Academy

Washington State men’s basketball head coach Kyle Smith has announced the addition of three student-athletes for next year’s 2023-24 season.

Freshman Rueben Chinyelu (Nigeria), junior college transfer Oscar Cluff (Sunshine Coast, Australia) and freshman Parker Gerrits (Olympia, Washington) will join the Cougs ahead of next season.

Rueben Chinyelu | Center forward

A 6ft 11in centre-forward and center, Chinyelu hails from Nigeria via the NBA Academy Africa, an elite basketball training facility in Senegal for top high school prospects from across Africa.

Chinyelu recently participated in the 2022 NBA Academy Games, a series of exhibition games featuring the NBA Academy’s top prospects. Chinyelu helped lead NBA Academy Africa to first place in the tournament.

Last spring, Chinyelu played for CFV of Mozambique in the Basketball Africa League (BAL) as part of an initiative to include an NBA Academy Africa player in each squad.

“We are blessed to have Rueben come to us next year,” Smith said of Chinyelu. “He’s not only a great prospect, but he embodies everything we want in a Washington State University student-athlete. As a player, Rueben has the potential to not only be a strength in the paint, but also a player who can play inside and outside, he will play the role of power forward and center for us.

Chinyelu competed for Nigeria in the FIBA ​​U16 Africa Championship 2019. Chinyelu carried his country to the game for third place averaging 12.3 points and 17.6 rebounds per game and shooting 0.567 since floor.

He made his debut for the senior Nigeria national team in August, taking part in the 2023 World Cup qualifiers.

“Like recent players in our program, Efe Abogidi and Mouhamed Gueye, Rueben is relatively new to the game and improving rapidly in all aspects,” added Smith. “Rueben comes to us from the same development program as Efe Abogidi, the NBA Academy Africa.

“Although the Academy has only been around for five years, it produces some of the best young talent in the world. Signing Rueben is the culmination of our staff’s commitment to recruiting overseas, particularly in West Africa. Rueben wouldn’t be here without the hard work of John Andrzejek.

“Rueben’s athletic potential and accomplishments are only eclipsed by who he is as a person,” Smith said. “He has an incredible attitude and work ethic in everything he does as evidenced by his 4.0 GPA. He is a true student-athlete. We can’t wait for Rueben to wear the Crimson and Grey.

Chinyelu will be the fourth West African player from Washington State to have played under Coach Smith.

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