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Former Syracuse basketball 5-star center target in portal after one UK term

Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse basketball (Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Ugonna Onyenso, who was a former Syracuse basketball five-star recruiting target, is entering the NCAA’s transfer portal after his freshman season at blue-blood program Kentucky, according to media reports from 247Sports national analyst Travis Branham and others.

The 6-foot-11, 225-pound power forward/center didn’t play all that much during the 2022-23 season for the Wildcats. Per ESPN statistics, Onyenso appeared in 16 games, averaging 6.9 minutes per contest.

Onyenso tallied averages of 2.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per encounter, while connecting on 52.9 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from the charity stripe.

Coming out of high school, national recruiting analysts and scouts noted that Onyenso possessed strong athleticism and length, with solid defensive instincts and a prowess for blocking shots.

Syracuse basketball offered a scholarship to Ugonna Onyenso in February of 2022.

Not too long after the ‘Cuse coaching staff offered Onyenso, I did come across a few reports suggesting that Orange coaches were in regular communication with him.

Onyenso was a fast-rising prospect last spring as he played well on the AAU circuit, where he was affiliated with the Team New England Basketball Club as well as the NY Jayhawks in the Adidas-sponsored league.

Prior to committing to Kentucky, Onyenso, who hails from Nigeria, attended the powerhouse Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, Conn.

He originally was a member of the 2023 class, but after committing to Kentucky on August 1, 2022, he reclassified to the 2022 cycle.

Throughout his recruiting process, Onyenso’s offer sheet, besides Syracuse basketball, included teams such as Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Memphis, UConn, Kansas, Maryland, Florida, Mike Hopkins-led Washington, LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Georgia, Providence, Georgetown, Texas Tech, Washington State, Clemson, Seton Hall, California and Iowa.

Once he reclassified to the 2022 cycle, Onyenso was deemed a four-star, top-40 national prospect, as well as a top-five center and the No. 1 player in Connecticut, according to most recruiting services.

However, the On3 recruiting service was more bullish on him than other primary recruiting Web sites. Within the 2022 class, On3 rated Onyenso as five stars, No. 18 overall, No. 3 at center and No. 1 in Connecticut.

Based on comments I’ve read about him from recruiting experts and scouts, my sense is that Onyenso still is in the developmental phase and needs to add strength, but his raw tools and potential are undeniable.

I’ll be curious to see what college squads pursue him now that Onyenso is in the transfer portal.

Next. Syracuse Basketball: Four-star big-men recruits earn All-America honors. dark