The age of Rockville High School basketball player Jimmy Sorunke is being investigated at the state and local level, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner confirmed Monday.
The investigation, spurred by a Deadspin story published Wednesday, started Thursday and is going through a mandatory five-day period, Turner said. That means it could conclude as early as this Wednesday.
The Deadspin story alleged Sorunke may have been 20 years old at the start of his freshman year at Rockville this fall — not 16, as Sorunke and his guardian, Joe Boncore, maintained this week. That also would mean the 6-foot-10 Sorunke played a full high school basketball season as a 20-year-old; he averaged 15.2 points for a Rockville team that finished 14-10 after going 2-22 the year before.
Turner said last week that MCPS received documentation at the time of Sorunke’s enrollment that indicated his birthday was June 11, 2001 — which would make him 16. The birthday listed on images of the Nigerian passport and birth certificate provided to The Washington Post is also June 11, 2001. Boncore said the same birth certificate and passport were given to MCPS before Sorunke matriculated, and also during this week’s investigation.
According to Turner, the investigation includes further review of those documents and research on the content of the Deadspin story. Rockville Coach Todd Dembroski declined to be interviewed for this story.
The Deadspin story cites a blog post from 2016 that lists Olujimi Sorunke Abayomi as having a birthday of June 11, 1997. That name is on the birth certificate and passport for Sorunke that Boncore provided to The Post.
Boncore, who has shepherded international basketball recruits into the United States in the past, has been Sorunke’s guardian since he came to the United States from his home country of Nigeria this summer. Sorunke lives with Boncore’s mother in the Rockville house where Boncore grew up.
In a post two years ago, MAPGIST — a blog that bills itself as offering the “current and hottest gossip in the entertainment industry and gossip about students all across the globe” — listed Sorunke as an 18-year-old student at Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, a “tertiary learning institution” described as the Nigerian version of an American college. The post, which includes a photo of Sorunke, lists his date of birth as “11th of June 1997.” Boncore said the photo was taken off one of Sorunke’s social media pages without his permission, and Sorunke told The Post last week that Moshood Abiola Polytechnic listed him as a student in an effort to recruit him as a basketball player. Sorunke did, however, post a Facebook photo of himself at an event at the school in March 2016.
The Deadspin story noted that Sorunke’s social media handles listed by the MAPGIST post match Sorunke’s current Snapchat username. The Deadspin story also notes that Sorunke played in a November 2016 three-on-three basketball tournament that was open only to players between the ages of 18 and 35. The tournament was run by FIBA, the sport’s international sanctioning body, and Boncore does not deny that Sorunke participated. Boncore told The Post that tournament organizers gave Sorunke a pass on his age because they wanted him to “play and attract fans to the event.”
“I know it sounds confusing, but this kid is 16,” Boncore said to The Post last week. “If this were all wrong, if he weren’t 16, I’d be the first to say I was wrong. But he is; he is 16.”
Boncore was also an “adviser” for Moses Ayegba — who later changed his name to Moses Abraham — a basketball player from Kano, Nigeria, who came to the United States in 2009. Ayegba, a 6-9 forward who chose Georgetown over Indiana, was suspended for the first nine games of his freshman season after the NCAA determined he took “improper benefits” from Boncore, who admitted to paying for Ayegba’s flight from Nigeria to the United States. Ayegba was then suspended for one game during his senior season, and reports at the time said that also was related to Boncore.
Now Boncore is in the crosshairs of the investigation into Sorunke’s age, which continues into this week.
“If he were 20, where is all the film of him playing from the last four years?” Boncore said. “If he had been playing all this time, or enrolled in college, wouldn’t there be some record of him playing? Jimmy was never enrolled in college. He’s a kid.”