Class of 2023 combo forward Mackenzie Mgbako is taking an official visit to IU this weekend. He arrives on Friday evening and departs on Sunday.
Indiana has an opportunity with Mgbako for a late addition to its 2023-24 roster, and one that would catapult them into the top-20 nationally in the 2023 freshman class rankings.
Below are the key things to know about Mgbako.
MACKENZIE MGBAKO ESSENTIALS
Class – 2023
Hometown – Gladstone, N.J.
School – Roselle Catholic
Position – Forward
Height – 6-foot-8
Weight – 220
AAU – New Jersey Scholars (Nike EYBL)
On3 Industry Average Ranking – 5-star (No. 9 overall in nation, No. 5 small forward)
Primary Competition – Kansas, St. John’s, Rutgers, Louisville
Mgbako was originally signed to play at Duke but asked for and was granted a release. He reopened his recruitment in April. Mgbako chose Duke over Kentucky a year ago. Kentucky is not involved now.
Other visits — Since decommitting from Duke, Mgbako has been to St. John’s and Kansas over the last week, and he is supposed to visit Louisville after the IU visit.
Timeline — Since Mgbako would ideally be joining summer workouts with a program in June, this one likely has an especially short timeline. Expect a decision in May.
Prognosis — There is some talk that Mgbako would like to stay closer to home. That favors St. John’s, and don’t completely count out home state school Rutgers, who he has visited in the past, and recruited him for more than three years. Kansas is a serious threat as well. Indiana’s pitch is wide open minutes at the three spot manned by the departed Miller Kopp each of the last two years, and an NBA-style offense.
Numbers — He averaged 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds in 16 games and earned All-State honors this season.
While playing for the New Jersey Scholars program on the Nike EYBL circuit last summer, he averaged 16.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 12 games.
Honors — Mgbako was a 2023 McDonald’s All-American.
RECRUITING SERVICE ASSESSMENTS
It is all about the jump shot. The release is consistent, high, and soft. Mgbako steps into it confidently off the catch and his balance is right on. Then you see the positional size at 6-foot-8/6-foot-9 and you see the attraction. Past the jump shot, Mgbako attacks closeouts in a straight line. His handle is average, his hips seem a little stiff, and he is a slightly above average athlete. Despite each of these being a concern moving forward, the shooting and the confidence are very real traits here and he rebounds his area. Mgbako has consistently performed at a high level is big settings.
His shot-making from behind the arc is his best asset. He can also make the types of shots that translate to the next level – pick-and-pop threes, slipping out of ball screens to make shots on the move, or creating space with a series of side-step or step-back shots. The mid-post has long been a staple of his individual offense, but now he’s getting some easy points by moving without the ball more freely. Physically, Mgbako appears to be in the best shape of his career to date and was also productive enough on the glass to hold his own at the four. His swing skills are his defensive versatility and shot-creation abilities, both of which are rooted in his mobility, footspeed, and ability to play low to the ground when necessary. If those two areas develop, both his versatility and overall projection will go to new levels.
DUKE’S JON SCHEYER:
He’s shown he’s one of the best players in the country with his size and ability to score at every level – shooting the three, creating off the bounce and in the post. I could tell early that he had a special feel for the game, an ability to score and rebound and make his teammates better.
“Probably something that separates me from others that play my position is I can shoot the ball really well. That’s something I started off doing before anything else, like even before putting it on the ground. So I hold my shot to be one of the top shots in the country. I’m working on becoming a leader and making plays for my teammates, finding the open man, etc. I’m good off screens, can pick-and-pop. I can drive more aggressively, and my athleticism is coming with that, so being more aggressive on the boards, offensive and defensive. Then my pull-ups and step-backs, the mid-range. A lot of kids don’t have a mid-range right now and I think I can use that to my advantage. And floaters, too.”
His quotes on why he chose Duke, for insight on what he might be looking for now:
“What made me pick Duke was, first, my connection with Coach (Jon) Scheyer. He’s been the guy that’s been mainly recruiting me, and we got really close. He’s just a really genuine guy and someone that you know has your best interest in mind. He’s hungry too!
“He played at Duke and now he’s going to be the head coach there after Coach K so he’s just super focused on winning. He’s a very relatable person to talk to. He’s been through all of this before, so he understands it all on a different level.”
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