The importance of Serge Ibaka for Oklahoma City was highlighted when his return led the Thunder to rally from a 2-0 deficit to force a six-game series against the eventual Western Conference champions, the San Antonio Spurs.
Now his younger brother, Igor Ibaka, is transferring to Oklahoma State, in Stillwater, a mere hour away from Oklahoma City. Igor starred at Northwestern Oklahoma A&M and will sit out the season while becoming eligible for the 2015 season.
Igor averaged 13.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in his inaugural season at power forward and will certainly be an asset for the Cowboys, who have competed well in recent years. They went 21-13 in the 2013-14 season, though their 8-10 record in the difficult Big 12 wasn't great.
After flaming out in the NCAA tournament's first round, with an 85-77 loss to Gonzaga, they'll be happy to add a recruit with as much promise as Igor.
The hint of his potential starts with his measurables. The Spanish native and Congolese-transplant is 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds. That puts him an inch and 25 pounds smaller than his brother, but he'll have time to bulk up.
What's important is that Igor has the same easy athleticism that makes Serge such a good player, especially as a big man who can both protect the rim and make athletic dunks on the other end of the court.
Igor is in a strange position because he is required to graduate from his junior college before making the move to Oklahoma State, due to his "non-qualifier" status - basically, his grades weren't up to snuff. The Oklahoman reports that he will take summer classes and, though he can't put pen to paper yet, he has at least verbally committed to the transfer.
Wichita State, Tulsa and Old Dominion also expressed interest in the big man, but once Oklahoma State swooped it in, it seemed like he would settle for playing in a smaller conference and for a smaller market - especially considering Stillwater's proximity to his brother's team.
He turns 22 in July, meaning he'll be older than most of his teammates when he does suit up. That might not matter much for his college career, though it will be taken into account when he decides to move on to the next level.
It'll be interesting to see what he can do once he takes the hardcourt for a competitive college team like Oklahoma State.
But if he can live up to half of his potential, the Cowboys will have gotten a potential deal-changer at one of the game's most important positions.
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