WOODSTOCK – Gus Okafor’s pursuit of an NCAA Division I basketball scholarship was a lesson in patience for the Massanutten Military Academy postgraduate guard/forward. Last month he finally got the offer that he’d been hunting, and he’s made his college destination official.
Okafor signed with Longwood University early last week, and celebrated his achievement on Thursday with a short ceremony inside MMA’s Memorial Gymnasium.
“Real excited,” Okafor said on Thursday. “I’ve been working all year, all of the work has paid off. I know it’s late but it’s better late than never. I really think that Massanutten, it was a great place for me to develop myself as a man, not only as a player. It really helped the transition into college, (made) it smoother.”
Okafor, a 6-foot-6 swingman from Washington, D.C., said Longwood was his first and only scholarship offer, though a few other Division I schools showed interest. He said he visited Longwood, located in Farmville, about three weeks ago and announced his commitment to play for the Lancers and head coach Griff Aldrich on April 20.
“When I took the visit they showed me a lot of love and they treated me like I was a part of the family already, even though they only knew me for about a week. I thought that was good,” Okafor said.
“The coaches, they have great personalities,” he added. “They know how to talk to their recruits. Their players were nice. It was just a great feeling.”
Okafor, who previously played for Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, played primarily off the bench for Massanutten Military Academy during the 2017-18 season. The Colonels set a new program record with 32 wins and received a bid to the invitation-only National Prep Championship in Connecticut for the fourth time under head coach Chad Myers.
In addition to improving as a basketball player, Okafor said his year at MMA brought some much-needed structure to his daily routine, as well.
“Having a plan every day, like a structure of the day, is real good for me,” he said.
Longwood, a member of the Big South Conference, went 7-26 (3-15 in the Big South) last season, the first under Aldrich. Asked if he expects to see playing time next winter, Okafor replied, “I’ll have to work for it.”
“I’ll just stay humble, play with a chip on my shoulder and just try to get better,” Okafor said.
Okafor said he plans to pursue a degree in athletic training at Longwood.