Mackenzie Mgbako, the No. 8-ranked player in the recruiting class of 2023 by Rivals.com and No. 9-rated prospect by ESPN.com, has decided to play basketball at Indiana, he announced on Friday.
Mgbako, a 6-8, 210-pound senior forward from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey, chose the Hoosiers over runner-up Kansas. St. John’s and Louisville also were included in his final list of four schools.
He visited St. John’s, KU and Indiana since receiving a release from his Duke letter-of-intent on April 11. His de-commitment from Duke followed 7-footer Kyle Filipowski’s decision to return to Duke for a sophomore season.
“I chose IU because I felt that coach (Mike) Woodson can put me in a position to expand and develop my game. The environment at Indiana is unmatched,” Mgbako told recruiting analyst Joe Tipton of On3.com.
McDonald’s All-America selection Mgbako on April 8, 2022 announced for Duke over Kentucky, Ohio State and Memphis. He also was heavily pursued by St. John’s, Louisville, North Carolina, Auburn, Georgetown, Michigan, LSU and UCLA.
Mgbako scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the World Team’s 90-84 loss to Team USA in the recent Nike Hoop Summit in Portland. Representing Nigeria for the World Team, he was 2 of 5 on three-pointers and 8 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“Mgbako’s shot-making from behind the arc is his best asset,” writes 247Sports director of scouting Adam Finkelstein. “He can also make the types of shots that translate to the next level — pick-and-pop threes, slipping out of ball screens to make shots on the move, or creating space with a series of side-step or step-back shots. The mid-post has long been a staple of his individual offense, but now he’s getting some easy points by moving without the ball more freely.”
Finkelstein added: “Physically, Mgbako appears to be in the best shape of his career to date and was also productive enough on the glass to hold his own at the 4 (spot). His swing skills are his defensive versatility and shot-creation abilities, both of which are rooted in his mobility, footspeed, and ability to play low to the ground when necessary. If those two areas develop, both his versatility and overall projection will go to new levels.”
Isaac Condra of SI.com writes that Mgbako “is prone to some mistakes as a defender and decision-maker but he has the tools and projectable role that makes him a potential lottery pick and one of the top incoming freshmen in college basketball. It’ll be interesting to track his development as an on-ball scorer over the next year but with proper training, he could be a lethal three level scorer with defensive ability.”
Mgbako averaged 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game during his senior season at Roselle Catholic, the top-ranked team in New Jersey. He earned first-team all-state honors.
Jamie Shaw of On3.com wrote: “It is all about the jump shot. The release is consistent, high, and soft. Mgbako steps into it confidently off the catch and his balance is right on. Then you see the positional size at 6-foot-8/6-foot-9 and you see the attraction. Past the jump shot, Mgbako attacks closeouts in a straight line. His handle is average, his hips seem a little stiff, and he is a slightly above average athlete. Despite each of these being a concern moving forward, the shooting and the confidence are very real traits here and he rebounds his area. Mgbako has consistently performed at a high level in big settings.”
As far as what he’s looking for in a college, Mgbako told prospectiveinsight.com: “Looking for a school where I can play my game and as well as conform to what they already have there and build upon it. Looking for a school that could build me as a player and person off the court. A place where I can get a great education as well as a place that loves to push the ball and get threes. I love threes.”
Where KU roster now stands
KU still has three scholarships to award in recruiting after losing eight players and gaining three via the transfer portal.
Of the eight lost, five have already picked new schools. The five are: Bobby Pettiford (East Carolina), Cam Martin (Boise State), Zach Clemence (Santa Barbara), Joseph Yesufu (Washington State) and MJ Rice (North Carolina State). Ernest Udeh, Kyle Cuffe and Zuby Ejiofor have not announced a destination yet.
KU has added three players from the portal thus far. They are: Hunter Dickinson (Michigan), Nick Timberlake (Towson) and Arterio Morris (Texas). KU returns two players from last year’s team (Dajuan Harris, KJ Adams) and also has four incoming freshmen (Marcus Adams, Elmarko Jackson, Chris Johnson and Jamari McDowell).