Led by Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas, Oral Roberts was the Cinderella story of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The Golden Eagles beat second-seeded Ohio State in the opening round, rallied from a double-digit deficit late in the second half to edge Florida and then lost 72-70 to Arkansas in the Sweet 16 when Abmas’s potential game-winning trey at the buzzer was just off the mark.
Both players tested the NBA waters, only to withdraw from the draft last week. Abmas opted to return to ORU, but Obanor entered the transfer portal.
The 6-foot-8 forward announced Friday morning that he’s transferring to Texas Tech, choosing the Red Raiders over Arkansas. Ironically, the Razorbacks beat Texas Tech in the Round of 32 to advance to their meeting with Oral Roberts before getting bounced by Baylor, the eventual national champion, in the Elite Eight.
Obanor, a native of Houston, TX., averaged 18.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game for the Golden Eagles as a true junior in 2020-21. He was extremely efficient, burying 50.3 percent of his field-goal attempts, 46.3 percent of his 3-pointers and 87.5 percent of his free throws.
As a freshman in 2018-19, Obanor averaged 14.8 points and 7.4 RPG. He drained 58.1 percent of his FGAs, 41.3 percent of his launches from downtown and 82.7 percent of his FTAs.
During his sophomore campaign, Obanor averaged 12.3 points and 7.4 RPG.
The only negative from his stats are a poor assist-to-turnover ratio. Obanor has 66 career assists compared to 151 turnovers.
In a 75-72 overtime win over the Buckeyes, Obanor led the way with 30 points and 11 rebounds. With the Golden Eagles trailing Ohio St. by four with 1:07 remaining, he knocked down four consecutive free throws to force the extra session. Obanor then scored ORU’s first five points in OT.
He followed that up with 28 points, 11 boards and four steals against the Gators. Obanor hit 9-of-16 FGAs and 4-of-7 from long distance vs. UF.
He posted a third straight double-double against the Razorbacks, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Perhaps most impressive, Obanor never left the court for Oral Roberts in the NCAA Tournament, playing all 125 minutes.
New head coach Mark Adams has done a masterful job of reconstructing the Texas Tech roster. AD Kirby Hocutt clearly made the right decision in hiring Adams, who was an assistant to Chris Beard for all five seasons of his tenure in Lubbock.
Beard left Texas Tech to replace Shaka Smart at Texas.