INDIANAPOLIS — When Team Rio plays on the Under Armour AAU circuit, all eyes usually are on 5-star wings Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine. Or at least that’s where the eyes start.
Lately, though, it’s been hard not to notice one of their teammates, a 6-foot-10 Adonis who’s all biceps and braids and rim-bending dunks, named Aidan Igiehon. Or is that former Kentucky star Bam Adebayo out there?
Wildcats assistant coach Tony Barbee can’t be sure, so he keeps coming back to see this kid who moved from Ireland to New York as a teenager and apparently lifted weights all the way to America and every day since arriving. While watching Lewis and Antoine’s games in Dallas and Indianapolis the last two weekends — both top-10 overall recruits in the Class of 2019 are UK targets — Barbee discovered the Adebayo clone playing with them.
“They compare me to Bam,” Igiehon told SEC Country. “I actually talk to Bam. We text and everything, so that’s pretty cool to get an inside voice. He’s a great player. I have a mentor — more of a friend — and he talks to a lot of NBA guys. He kind of saw, like, ‘Man, this guy, he plays like Bam.’ He posted that in a group chat and we’ve been texting back and forth. We’re actually texting right now.”
The similarly musclebound Adebayo, who was a lottery pick after one season at Kentucky and just finished a strong rookie season in the NBA, is coming up a lot in this new recruiting cycle. Five-star big man Vernon Carey, arguably the No. 1 player in the class, also mentioned his relationship with Adebayo and how glowingly he spoke of the Wildcats’ ability to prepare elite post players for the pros.
Igiehon is not nearly as big a name (yet) as Adebayo or Carey. He’s ranked the 33rd-best prospect in 2019, a 4-star prospect, by the 247Sports composite. That’s not exactly under the radar — Rivals ranks him No. 23 overall and a 5-star recruit — but Igiehon knows he still has plenty to prove.
“A lot of people haven’t really seen me because I go to a small school on Long Island,” he said Saturday after a series of jaw-dropping dunks in a come-from-behind victory. “That right there, that’s nothing. I don’t get the ball as much as I want, but scouts are good at their job and they can see.”
Through eight games on the Under Armour circuit this spring, Igiehon has averaged 10.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, and he’s made 21 of 27 free throws (78 percent). He already has a scholarship offer from Kentucky’s rival, Louisville, and had a relationship with new Cardinals coach Chris Mack when he was at Xavier.
So far, Louisville, Oregon, Virginia, Southern California, Wake Forest, St. John’s and Georgetown have been in hot pursuit. But now the Wildcats are paying attention, as is fellow blueblood Duke.
“Kentucky is showing some great interest,” Igiehon said. “Coach Barbee has been talking to me. He’s intrigued by my game and he wanted to see a little more. I’m a physical specimen, he said, and you can’t really teach that. I saw him here in Indy and our eyes kind of met and it was kind of like a look.”
A nod, a mutually understood, “We see you.”
So would a scholarship offer from Kentucky change things for Igiehon?
“Of course, yes. It would be exciting to at least get the opportunity for me to consider it,” he said. The plan is to trim the list of schools he’s considering soon. “They’re going to know when I do that, so if they actually want to offer, that’s up them.”