Although the ESPN2 battle between Team Sizzle (MN) and Ypsi Prep (MI) was focused on Chet Holmgren and Emoni Bates, for good reason, there was still a lot to like about the talent on both teams. One player who showed defensive potential and some pop offensively was Team Sizzle’s Prince Aligbe, a 6’7+ combo forward in the 2022 class. Having recently turned 17, Aligbe is primed to take on a large role this year after spending the last couple of seasons playing beside stars such as Holmgren and Gonzaga freshman Jalen Suggs at Minnehaha Academy (MN).
With some impressive leaping ability, length and instincts, Aligbe prides himself as a defender. He has potential to guard either forward position, while even showing some ability to move down at times defensively. He also has shown flashes as a slasher and shooter, with his playmaking acumen making him even more enticing as a prospect. Strong and intelligent off and on the floor, Aligbe has dual citizenship with USA and Nigeria, while in the midst of deciding whom he would eventually like to represent nationally on the basketball court.
Aligbe will continue to be a key component to Team Sizzle’s high profile match-ups, as he was against Ypsi Prep. Currently, he has offers from schools such as Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Maryland, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA, and USC among others, with hopes of hearing from a few additional high major powerhouses. Playing against older competition while still a middle-schooler, Aligbe is very comfortable in his role and ready to prove he is a player to be mentioned among the top of the 2022 high school class.
In this interview, Aligbe talks about his family and their Nigerian roots, his style of play, what he must do this season to step up for his team, his recruitment, his academic pursuits, some of the players who inspire him, and more.
For the next installment of the Pro Insight Q&A series, we present 2022 prospect Prince Aligbe, from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota:
Pro Insight: Tell us about your background.
Prince Aligbe: Well, I'm the oldest of three first and foremost. I have two younger brothers, one is 15 years old and the other is 13 years old. The middle brother’s name is Rolyns and the youngest is Harrison. Rolyns is actually here with us, he’s playing on our team and it’s been really good to see him grow as a player and step up on the big stage with me. I live in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, born and raised there. Both of my parents are of Nigerian descent. So they're immigrants and they came over in the late 1990s and then they had me in 2003. We have a real good situation over there. You know, they've been learning since they've been here in the U.S. and I've been learning too. It's been a real fun journey that has gotten me to where I'm at now and I’m trying to grow up and be the best young man and older brother I can be.
PI: Do you have dual citizenship?
PA: Yes. I have dual citizenship, both here (U.S.) and in Nigeria.
PI: Have you considered playing for the Nigerian national team?
PA: Last year, actually, I was invited to play. You know, like, obviously there's no 16U or 17U team, but they gave me a call and they gave my dad a call and said, “okay, maybe it's time to consider what we're going to do for Prince in the future.” Maybe we're talking about FIBA, men's league or maybe even Olympics, but they just want to see how I am and how I progress over time.
PI: Is that something you’d be interested in?
PA: I would love to play for my home country, but I would also love to play for USA, too.
So I just hope I get both opportunities and see which one's best for me.
PI: Any family members play sports collegiately or professionally?
PA: Both my parents actually didn't really play sports like that, unless it was like soccer.
My mom didn't play sports, but my dad played soccer when he was younger in Nigeria, but he grew away from it. So it was kind of stagnant for a couple of years until I was born. I didn't really play any sports either until I started playing basketball in third grade, mainly because I felt like I needed to do something. I saw my friends playing [basketball] at school and I just fell in love with it ever since. My cousin Anthony Eboreime played arena football, participated in the NFL draft combine, and was a WR at NDSU back in 2012.
PI: What are your greatest strengths as a basketball player?
PA: Definitely a versatile two-way player, always going out guarding the other team's best player, but also a real leader on my squad. A real-deal slasher and finisher around the rim, but also have a nice pull-up jump shot. I’m just trying to create my game so I can be more of a three-level scorer so I can get to where I want to be and that’s the NBA.
PI: What about some improvement areas?
PA: I’m actually a pretty good decision-maker, but as you can see today, we didn't do too much of that as a team and I feel like I need to be that person. We had Jalen Suggs [currently at Gonzaga] and I love him to death, that's really my older brother. He's taught me so much and he's got me to where I'm at now, but everyone has to step up at a certain time. So I feel like I got to really take that role. I'm a vocal dude on defense, but I’ve got to be a leader on offense. Be alongside Chet Holmgren and just play basketball.
PI: What are some underrated aspects of your game?
PA: Definitely my passing. That's one thing I feel like people don't really see a lot, especially with our squad last year. I think I jumped from averaging like one assist my freshman year to around four or five [sophomore year]. So I feel like I do a good job with that, but just reading the defense, I feel like I know how to get the ball to certain people and I know when we got to run a certain play. So I just really want to emerge into that role where people see me as a natural shooting guard that could also play the point or small forward and can guard all five positions.
PI: How are you and Chet trying to step up and fill the void Jalen Suggs left behind?