Laurence Ekperigin may play in the NBA some day. He may not. But the former Panas star has unquestionably gotten farther than anyone ever imagined in basketball already. So why not a couple more steps?
I wrote a feature for today’s paper on the 6-foot-7 forward, who just finished up an All-American career at Division II Le Moyne College in Syracuse and is considered a serious pro prospect. Ekperigin averaged 12 points and seven rebounds at the Portsmouth Invitational in Virginia early last month. He was one of only three Division II player in attendance for the showcase, which normally produces a handful of second-round picks.
At his height, Ekperigin is considered a phenomenal athlete, but his game remains somewhat limited because he played under the basket in college. Suspicion bout his perimeter game will keep him in Europe once the NBA holds its draft in June, but he should have a number of options overseas. Top EuroLeague clubs in Italy and Spain are among those who have already shown interest.
If you read the story, you’ll find out about just how far Ekperigin has come in just eight years time. He arrived at Panas as a skinny 5-foot-10 freshman who had never played organized basketball. He was never able to as a grade school student in Harlem because his school was a 90-minute train ride away (each way) in Bushwick, Brooklyn. But as his game developed and his body filled out, Ekperigin became a college prospect. And that’s when he exploded, becoming one of the top players in Division II and the best player on a team that upset Syracuse last year in the exhibition season.
You can read on for more about Ekperigin. Despite coming from a family with little to no knowledge about basketball, he certainly had the bloodlines to become a strong athlete. And his family has adjusted in recent years, learning more about the game and coming to understand how much it could help Laurence achieve what the family first feared it would cost him: a strong education.