In an effort to keep even the most hardcore Miami fan up to date on their favorite players, SOTU will be running a Player Profile series. In these posts, our writers will profile two players from each position that they think should get more face time. They will recap their previous year, or in some cases, preview what may be to come. That way, when the season get's here, you hopefully will have a new found love for the team on the field.
[Raphael Akpejiori] - [Senior] - [Forward] - [6'9'' 241 lbs] - [Lagos, Nigeria]
You might not know this but, Lagos, Nigeria is the second fastest growing city in Africa, and in addition to that, it's also the hometown of Canes hoops senior, Raphael Akpejiori. Although Akpejiori was born in Nigeria, he played his high school basketball for Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas. Akepjiori had a good career at Sunrise Christian and he was rated as the 64th best power forward in the class of 2010 by ESPN despite sitting out his entire senior season. His performance on the court is sometimes criticized by fans, but his performance in the classroom is second-to-none. Akpejiori was named to the ACC academic honor roll last year and made the Dean's list his sophomore year. Akpejiori was recruited by Frank Haith and was also being recruited by Texas A&M, Colorado, USF, and UCF.
Akpejiori hasn't logged a lot of minutes in his college career. During his freshman season he played 20 games and was only out there for 5 minutes per game. He did average a career-best 1.6 points per game and 1.6 rebounds per game. He was also third on the team in blocks with 13 despite playing limited minutes. His sophomore season, Akpejiori got an increase in playing time with 6.7 minutes per game, but his production stayed the same. He averaged 1.6 points per game for the second straight year and his rebounding went down slightly to 1.5 per game. Last season, however, Akpejiori didn't find a spot in the rotation for most of the year as the frontcourt depth was exceptional. Raphael only appeared in 18 games last season, mostly because of foul trouble by the other bigs. His scoring went down to less than 1 point per game and averaged 1.1 rebounds per game, while also shooting a career-low 35 percent from the field.
With most of last year's frontcourt graduated, there are a lot of spots up for grabs. Larranaga was able to bring in James Kelly and Donnavan Kirk, but he's going to need some more depth in order to contend this season. Akpejiori will have to fight his way into the rotation, but I think he'll provide solid minutes of the bench. He wont log ten minutes a game, but he will provide good minutes on selective nights. After a good "Athletes in Action" performance in the summer for Team Jamaica where he averaged 9.2 points per game along with 5.8 rebounds per game, Raphael will be looking to build off that and have a successful senior season for the Canes in whichever role Jim Larranaga needs him to fill.