University of Missouri

Missouri basketball uses last open scholarship on French 7-foot sophomore Axel Okongo

Cuonzo Martin quietly completed his roster for the 2019-20 basketball season Monday as Missouri landed a surprise commitment from junior college center Axel Okongo.

A 7-footer who spent last season at Northwest Junior College in Wyoming, Okongo averaged 2.5 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, according to the NJCAA. Okongo is a native of Saacy-sur-Mame, France and recently took a visit to MU’s campus.

It is unknown when Okongo will be on campus for summer classes as he’s yet to officially sign with MU. With only Jeremiah Tilmon and Reed Nikko on scholarship, Okongo gives the Tigers extra insurance should Tilmon get into foul trouble.

Missouri added 6-foot-7 forward Kobe Brown over the spring signing period, but never seriously pursed a center who could play immediately. The Tigers were linked to Oregon State center Warren Washington, but never hosted him on campus for a visit.

Okongo has ideal size and will have two years of eligibility remaining at MU. He came off the bench for Northwest and a quick glance at his highlights shows he plays more as a traditional center. Okongo appears to have a post game with some range to his jump shot and showed flashes of being a rim protector, with numerous blocks.

He was considered one of the top performers at Portland Trail Blazers star Evan Turner’s college showcase in April, which is held in Chicago for under-the-radar prospects.

With the addition of Okongo, Missouri is using all 13 scholarships for the upcoming season.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.