Emmanuel Omogbo caught the ball near the foul line and put his 6-foot-6 frame into action. He dribbled toward the right and launched himself toward the basket. It was not the most fluid motion, but the Don Bosco junior forward was able to pull it off, scoring on a layup with 31 seconds left to lift his team to victory.
Admittedly a work in progress after picking up a basketball for the first time in seventh grade, Omogbo scored a game-high 30 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots to lead the visiting Wolfpack to a 64-59 victory over Potomac School in a nonleague game in McLean on Tuesday night.
“He’s big, raw and athletic,” Don Bosco Coach Justin Kittrell said. “He potentially could score 40 every night. He could be the best player in the area if he wanted to. He’s come a long way from not playing basketball. . . . When he started, he couldn’t make a layup.”
Indeed, there were flashes Tuesday where Omogbo showed how good he might be, whether it was driving to the basket, pulling up for a 14-foot jumper or handling the ball against pressure. There also was room for improvement, but Omogbo, who averages 27 points per game, knows the strides he has made.
“I’m a soccer player, I didn’t really play basketball,” he said. “I actually played in seventh grade in a church-league game and my coaches at the church taught me.”
Omogbo played on a middle school team in eighth grade, then made the Northwestern varsity as a high school freshman before transferring to Don Bosco for his sophomore year. He has bulked up from a 155-pound string bean entering high school to a sturdy 195-pounder. Robert Morris has offered a scholarship and he also is being recruited by VCU, Wake Forest, Quinnipiac and Central Connecticut State.
On Tuesday night, Omogbo started strong and Don Bosco (9-10) led for much of the game despite having just seven players in uniform. But guard Juan Johnson left early in the third quarter with an injured hand and forward Olin Ugo eventually fouled out, leaving the Wolfpack without any substitutes.
Cullen Hamilton, the Holy Cross recruit who last week surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his career, scored 13 of his 18 points after halftime for Potomac School (13-8). And the Panthers took a 60-59 lead on Devin Hill’s layup with 1 ½ minutes left.
After the teams traded misses, Omogbo got the ball 15 feet from the basket and knew he was driving for the go-ahead score.
“I never thought I would see that much maturity, not in three years,” Kittrell said. “He wants to be good.”