Akwasi Yeboah carves key role for Rutgers in win over Niagara
Stony Brook transfer Akwasi Yeboah put up 14 points for Rutgers in Sunday’s 86-39 win over Niagara. The graduate senior’s first two games as a Scarlet Knight have seen him finish with double digit point totals as the team’s second leading scorer behind captain, Geo Baker. The home crowd of the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) has been witness to his impact during Rutgers’ three-game home stand to open the season. The Chigwell, England native has seen the best the Garden State faithful has to offer during the team’s two-game win streak.
“Its just like poetry in motion,” Yeboah said of the team’s offense. “It’s beautiful to watch a team share the ball like that and create efficient shots. The RAC is really closed in so the atmosphere and the fans are great. They really got into the game so it gave us the Adrenalin to go out and dominate.”
A Familiar Face
When head coach Steve Pikiell recruited Yeboah this past off season, it was actually the second time he’d done so. Yeboah was a relic from Pikiell’s last recruiting class during his stint as head coach for Stony Brook back in 2015. In his final year of eligibility, Yeboah decided to follow his former coach to the Big Ten. Signing Yeboah has been key in Rutgers filling the void left by the departure Eugen Omoruyi, who decided to transfer to Oregon last Spring. In the interim, Rutgers has seen early success. Yeboah has been a key contributor in the Knights’ first two wins as the team’s second leading scorer. Meanwhile, Omoruyi hasn’t seen the floor for Oregon yet this season and Stony Brook has started 0-2.
Yeboah’s game is in transition. While at Stony Brook, his role was that of a stretch-power forward. His offensive prowess was defined by his dominant post skills as well as his occasional adjustment to the wing. It also cannot be discounted that he led Stony Brook in rebounds. That was then, this is now. Under Pikiell, Yeboah has played the majority of his minutes as a small forward. While he will need to bring his offensive skills from Stony Brook, his defense will have a bigger impact on his time with Rutgers.
“I have to play defense.” Yeboah said. “Coach Pikiell makes it easy for me and my teammates make it easy for me. We play together, we share the ball and we have really good chemistry . . . I feel comfortable in the system and whatever the coach needs me to do, I’ll do it.”
The real test for Yeboah will be when he goes up against Big Ten Opponents. He will need all his tools to come out victorious, but once again he has no intention of solely relying on his offense.
“Defense and rebounding,” Yeboah said. “I know my defense is gonna keep me in the game and when you win on the defensive end you’re gonna win championships and win games.”
Yeboah saw his averages in points and rebounds increase over each of his three years at Stony Brook. If that growth transitions into the landscape of the Big Ten it will speak volumes to Pikiell’s talent as a recruiter.
Rutgers fans will get to see Yeboah’s impact at the RAC again on Wednesday when the team hosts Drexel. Then, after a one-game road trip, Yeboah will get to show out for the Knights’ home crowd before beginning conference play on December 8 at Michigan State.
“It’s just the physicality.” Yeboah said. “Those dudes know how to play basketball so I know I’ve got to be ready in the weight room getting stronger.”
Yeboah, Pikiell, and the rest of the team will be looking to make a deep run this season. If Yeboah can continue to deliver the way he has in these last two contests, the team may end up going very far. For now, though, Rutger’s focus is on Wednesday.
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