Updated: Jun 11, 2022
To conclude an event-filled summer, CrossRoads Elite Invitational provided an opportunity to get an early look at some of the nation's top underclassmen all under one roof. Taking place at the YMCA Farha Sports Centers in Wichita, Pro Insight was on hand to cover the three-day event. In between games, we caught up with Emmanuel Okitondo of Archbishop Carroll (DC) and Team Durant (MD).
Boasting a unique basketball journey from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the United States, Emmanuel Okitondo remains humble and focused on making the most of his opportunities. Gifted with ideal positional size and athleticism for the guard position, Okitondo has a nice baseline skill set in terms of creating, shooting, finishing, etc. combined with a high motor on both ends of the floor. After spending some time at Oak Hill Academy, Okitondo recently transferred to Archbishop Carroll and is eager to continue opening eyes and earning scholarship offers.
As part of the Pro Insight Q&A series, Okitondo discussed his basketball background, what motivates him, his recruitment update, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2024 prospect Emmanuel Okitondo, from The Democratic Republic of the Congo:
Pro Insight: Can you share a bit about your background?
Emmanuel Okitondo: My name is Emmanuel Okitondo and I’m part of the class of 2024. I’m from the Congo — my family is still over there. I came here to study and play basketball.
PI: Discuss your basketball journey — how did you come over to the United States?
EO: I started playing soccer before, but after a few years I started playing basketball. I came here, because in the Congo I posted my video on Instagram and a coach texted me and said “if you want to come here. I can help you.” That’s why he gave me an I-20.
PI: So you posted a video and a coach offered you to come play here?
EO: When I posted my video a coach texted me and he said, “if you want to come here then I can help you”. He talked to my parents and they said it was O.K.. He got me the I-20 and when I came here I was staying with him.
PI: Did you start playing basketball on your own or were you “discovered”?
EO: No, I started basketball on my own. I just watched some videos and that helped me. Every time I watched some videos I was going to try to repeat the same skill I saw in the videos.
PI: What got you introduced to the game?
EO: When I was little I liked watching Dikembe Mutoumbo because he’s from the same country as me and I like how he plays. That’s why I’m trying to play like him. I enjoy Jonathan Kuminga, too.
PI: Are there any other athletes in your family?
EO: No, all of my brothers and sisters are little. I’ve got three brothers and two sisters and I’m the first kid.
PI: Describe your game — what are your strengths?
EO: I think my mid-range game is my strength. I’m trying to work on my skill and my handle. Right now I think I can go to the basket, rebound, and play defense. I’m working on my shot a little bit.
PI: What have you been doing to work on your shot?
EO: Right now, I’m trying to focus on my mid-range because sometimes when I drive I can shoot. I’m trying to play like Jayson Tatum or Kobe Bryant.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
EO: My shot, because people think I can’t shoot. They think my shot is broken, but I know I can make the mid-range shot.
PI: You play with a lot of energy — where does that come from?
EO: It comes from, well I came here all by myself. All of my family is staying in Africa and every time I remember my family and think if I play well I can go to the NBA and change my family's life. Every time I remember I’m here to go to the league or play pro. That’s why every time I play it’s just hard.
PI: What’s the update with your recruitment?
EO: Right now, I've got three offers: I’ve got Towson, UMBC, and Bryant University. Right now I’m just trying to stay focused. If I stay focused on my game because I know they’re going to come if I stay focused. I’m just trying to play hard.
PI: What are some of your off-court interests?
EO: Off the court I watch soccer. I play soccer with some of my friends. Every time I can, I try to talk to my family, too.
PI: Who are your favorite soccer players and why?
EO: I like Messi because when you watch him it’s just “wow!” I like Neymar, too. My first dream before basketball was to play soccer. Right now I love basketball.
PI: Were you pretty good at soccer?
EO: Yeah I was pretty good, but in Africa the opportunities are limited. You can play good, but it’s not like here if you play good. If you play good here then people are going to watch you, but Africa is very difficult. Now that I come here it’s just good. Every time I say “thank you, God,” because I know so many people back home that play basketball, but they don’t get the same opportunities.
PI: If you had one hashtag to describe yourself what would that hashtag be?
EO: #motivation. Because everytime you see me you’re going to see me smile and I’m going to motivate everybody on the court because I know where I come from, it’s poverty. We don’t get the same opportunities as the people here and that motivates me. When I see people here, they give me motivation to play hard every time. That’s why it’s #motivation.