Former Montverde Academy center Ugo Okam has transferred to Bethune-Cookman, becoming the Wildcats’ first 7-foot-tall basketball player in more than 40 years, the school announced Tuesday.
The fifth-year senior graduated from Harvard and has enrolled in B-CU’s graduate program. Okam, a 7-foot-245-pound postman from Nigeria, played for Harvard from 2010-12 but has been out of basketball the past two seasons.
He said he had knee problems and academic issues and focused on his classwork last year, earning his degree on time.
“It was quite challenging,” he said. “Athletes at Harvard do not get special treatment. We did not get tutors.”
Okam said he continued to work out with Harvard coaches last year and played summer-league basketball and is now “very healthy.”
“I’ve know (B-CU coach Gravelle Craig) for a bit and I thought they had a lot of potential to do something great this year. I can’t wait for the season to start.”
Okam joins 6-foot-9 forward Delino Dear, who transferred from Toledo before last season and is eligible to play for the Wildcats this year. As a college graduate, Okam is eligible to play immediately.
“With all this size, we’re looking more like a Division I team these days,” Craig said.
Okam played in 17 games for Harvard, including just three for a total of eight minutes in his sophomore season. He averaged 4.1 minutes per game as a freshman in 2010-11. He was a three-year starter at national prep power Montverde after playing his high school freshman season in Nigeria.
“I watched him in high school and for Each Teach One, his AAU team,” Craig said. “I thought he had potential to be a good college player with development. He adds size that we haven’t had in a long time.”
The Wildcats also added three junior college players — 6-6 forward Quintin Brewer of Gordon State (Georgia), 6-4 guard Denzel Dulin of Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk and 6-6 forward Jeffon Powell of Cecil College (Maryland).