After the good signings in the form of an Argentine connection (Fjellerup, Ruesga, Lugarini), together with the daring of the youth (Kostadinov, Peñarroya, Kanyinda) and the continuity of key men (Lundqvist, Figueras), Palmer Mediterranean Soul Palma has made a different bet for the ‘five’ when signing the American Amadi Ikpeze (1998/208 cm / 111 kg), who recently acquired a Cotonou passport (Nigeria) and which will complement Milan Šuškavčević.
His physique prompted the St Bonaventure Bonnies to recruit him, entering the rotation from the start (16/17) and starting to stand out in his sophomore year. Sophomore (14 mi, 4.5 pt, 3.1 re). In his last two courses, already as one of the team captains, Ikpeze continued to fulfill his second unit duties (19/20: 13 mi, 3.6 pt, 3.3 re) before the arrival of Osun Osunniyi as the starting center. His move to professionalism was nothing less than in Kosovo, at KB Rahoveci, where he lasted all season despite being in a league where there is usually a high replacement of foreign players. He had a starting role, but doing a dark job, in a team that remained in the semifinals and where the weight was carried by the outside battery. His averages were 9.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.3 blocks in the 29 minutes he was on the court.
The club’s press release expresses the confidence in the form of the potential of a player who has not exploded and whom they define as “a very athletic and physically strong center, he is a type of player that we did not have last year and that he is going to impose his physical strength in the league. We hope he will be a benchmark both on defense and offensively under the rim. He may be that intimidating center that we still lacked last season. He is going to bring a lot of strength to the team because of the type of player he is and during his university days he has already proven to be a great finisher and to be an intimidating center for rivals. On the rebound he will also help us a lot and in our game, which is very dynamic, he will be quite comfortable ”.
In my opinion, he is a player who has rookie as in NCAA. That is to say, it has had continuity in Kosovo, but it has not managed to impose its physique to stand out (we can say that it has tiptoed past). Physically he is a 208-centimeter mass (perhaps a little less than the official measurement), a ‘five’ of those with a butt game that scores near the post with his game with his back to the basket (he lacks the ability to define). Able to be a good blocker, with good response in the Q&A or without the ball, and taking advantage of its size in favorable situations, as well as situations of putbacks. I’ve even seen him shoot from medium distance (3-4 meters) if he has time to set up the shot. Good rebounder in his space, he takes blocks with his size and, something interesting, defensively holds his rivals on the post, occupying his radius of action. Told like this, it seems that we are facing a hidden gem, but make no mistake, because tactically it costs it and in Gold it can take its toll. At the back, the moment they take him out near the rim, he suffers with his lateral displacement, being prone to making unnecessary fouls. He doesn’t generate from the low post, he has some soft hands and also silly turnovers. A center who needs to improve his footwork to gain consistency.
The Palmesan team has bet strongly on him, although we remember that last season he cut Kai Edwards (who ended up in Amics) in preseason to get the services of Jawara. With Šuškavčević as the other ‘five’, it is clear that the signing of Ikpeze is a change of mind compared to last season, in which he was, as we said, a much more mobile and more experienced Jawara. For his part, Amadi Ikpeze is a player yet to be polished and it remains to be seen if he is a jewel when they open the packaging. With a clear rim protector profile, it remains to be seen if it could be to become a specialist in this regard in Gold, since in the Kosovar league, which has good players, there are usually not very skilled interiors. His growth in the offensive area and in the individual work that he will do in Palma will be another battlefield, while on track he will take advantage of his opportunities as a finisher. A risky bet that comes to fulfill an important role in a competition that does not forgive even the slightest mistake.