Desert Vista forward Osasere Ighodaro has spent countless hour this offseason preparing for his senior year.
He’s taken a new approach in the weight room, and has improved his diet. As a result, the 6-foot-10, 180-pounder has seen his body transform in a positive way.
He’s bigger, faster and stronger than he has been in his previous three season with the Thunder.
“He’s become extremely athletic, that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed,” Crump said. “He’s always been able to handle the ball but he has become a really good shooter. Now, people have to come out and respect his shot but he can still go right by them. It’s a good problem to have.”
Ighodaro helped lead a young Desert Vista team to a 17-10 record last season, averaging 9.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He was forced to play in the paint all season, going away from his natural position as a wing.
This season, however, Ighodaro will be able to play the wing with the addition of John Solomon, who transferred to the program this summer after playing the last two seasons at Sarasota Christian in Sarasota, Fla.
At 6-foot-8 and nearly 200 pounds, Solomon has become accustomed to being a physical presence in the paint, an aspect that Desert Vista lacked last season.
“John gives us size, strength and toughness,” Ighodaro said. “He’s a big piece we needed to push us over the edge to become state contenders.”
Desert Vista has showcased its talent at several tournaments so far this summer. But they’re still learning how to play as a team.
Ighodaro has been the driving force for the team to become accustomed to one another. Crump has called upon him to be the unsung leader of the group, a task Ighodaro embraced right away.
“I want to be able to lead us to accomplish all of our goals,” Ighodaro said. “I want to win a state championship. Hopefully I can help bring that to the school and just make good memories with my teammates.”
Even with a full season yet to be played, Ighodaro has already started creating a strong legacy at Desert Vista on and off the court. When he isn’t on the court perfecting his craft, he is using his 4.7 GPA working at the school as a math tutor for his peers.
“He’s an extremely smart and just an overall great kid,” Crump said. “A lot of kids wouldn’t keep working once they get all of the notoriety and offers he has. He doesn’t let that affect who he is as a person. It’s a testament to his family.”
Since the end of the 2018 season, Ighodaro has seen an uptick in his recruitment from major Division I college programs.
He’s received 16 scholarship offers since April, bringing him to 25 before his senior year begins.
The University of Arizona, Stanford University, University of Texas and Vanderbilt University are among the schools Ighodaro said on Twitter have been recruiting him “the hardest.” He already visited Stanford and most recently, Vanderbilt.
“I really enjoyed it,” Ighodaro said. “I really like Coach (Jerry) Stackhouse and the rest of the coaching staff. There’s a lot of former NBA guys and that’s where I am trying to get so it was a good experience.”
Despite being recognized as one of the top players in the state and country in the 2020 class, Ighodaro isn’t letting that change who he is. While a dominant player on the court, Ighodaro is soft-spoken off of it.
He sat back and listened to the older players ahead of him the past three seasons, and often would be the quietest player on the court. Now, while he has become more vocal to help his teammates, he continues to remain humble.
“I don’t like people that forget about everyone and where they came from when they blow up,” Ighodaro said. “That’s not me. I’m just trying to stay true to the people that helped me get here.”
Desert Vista had just four seniors on the team last season, meaning even the players such as Andrew King and Marcus Wady – who played varsity as freshman – return with experience.
Jackson Ray and James Gossett also return as seniors ready to lead alongside Ighodaro. Crump expects to have even more depth on the bench this season, with each player able to come in and make a difference.
Desert Vista will be among the favorites to make a deep playoff run and contend for the title. Ighodaro knows they have the talent and confidence to finish at the top of the 6A Conference.
“We are excited, we are looking forward to the season,” Ighodaro said. “I think we can compete with anyone. We just need to continue to work together and grow our chemistry.”