Akwasi Yeboah joined the Rutgers men’s basketball program as a graduate transfer only a few months ago, but it has been a relatively seamless transition for him. In speaking with Yeboah on Tuesday at media day, he said “It’s been smooth coming from Stony Brook because I already knew coach Pikiell. The guys have accepted me and I already feel like I’ve been here my whole career. We’ve been working out together and hanging out together off the court. We are clicking and I’m looking forward to a great year.”
Adding Yeboah to a strong core of returning players was a big offseason pickup for Rutgers. Jeff Goodman of The Stadium listed him as the 36th best grad transfer on the market and he selected Rutgers over other suitors such as TCU, SMU, Marquette, and Clemson.
Yeboah was the best player on a Stony Brook team that went 24-9 last season, averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Yeboah shot 41.3% from the floor, 31.6% from three-point range on 209 attempts, and 78.5% from the free throw line on 130 attempts. He shot 45.2.% from the field and 35.5% from three the previous season on less attempts, which is a reason to be encouraged he could achieve those type of numbers with Rutgers, where he won’t be the top offensive target.
He had an efficiency rating of 103.0 last season and is a proven scorer, as he failed to reach double digits in just two out of thirty-two games played. The 6’6” forward plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor and is an effective rebounder, as his defensive rebounding rate of 20.1% was 245th best in the nation last season.
As for his familiarity with Pikiell, Yeboah was recruited to Stony Brook by him and redshirted his first year during the coach’s last season with the Seawolves. In asking Yeboah if Pikiell has changed at all in his current role at Rutgers, the wing confirmed, “he is the same as before. He is a winner and wants to win. He has the same approach. He is hard on us when he has to be and expects the best of us.”
In regard to making the jump from mid-major to the high-major level in the Big Ten conference, Yeboah is taking it all in stride. In regard to adjustments he is focused on with his game, he said, “Everything really. My goal is to constantly work on my game. Being able to do everything well on the court will help me individually and help the team as well.”
It’s no secret that Rutgers has spent the entire offseason to prepare to play a more up tempo style this season. It’s something Yeboah has had to adjust to. “It’s definitely a much faster pace and more physical here. You have to be in great condition to play at that pace. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s all about working together on the court, in the weight room, and getting ourselves prepared for it.”
This summer was good timing for Yeboah to join the program with the team’s trip to Spain this past August. He produced a four game team high +/- total of 76. The trip itself helped him become more acclimated with the team, saying “It was really good. Playing with a new group of people, the trip helped us get used to our tendencies and each other. It was a great team experience in learning about each other and having fun together on and off the court.”
Although similar in build to former Rutgers forward Eugene Omoruyi, it would be a mistake to think Yeboah will play a similar style on the court. He is much more of an perimeter wing than a post up, physical player like Omoruyi was. Yeboah gives Rutgers an established three-point shooter as well, as he has made 33.5% of his 507 career attempts from deep. As for the three-point line being moved back from 20 feet, 9 inches to the FIBA distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches, it’s not really a change for Yeboah. “I’m from England, so I’ve been shooting from that range for years before I came to the states, so it’s not much of an adjustment for me.”
This season is Yeboah’s last at the collegiate level and he made it clear he only has one goal for himself and this team. “To win and hopefully get to the dance. Take it one game at a time and win. Make history.” Let’s hope his goals become reality.