Freshman center Enoch Boakye sat in front of the media on Tuesday for the first time this season and showed the excitement, commitment and dedication he looks to bring to Sun Devils basketball for years to come.
Boakye grew up in Canada where he also played high school basketball. His 7-4 wingspan and 6-foot-10 height made the high school level easier to navigate, to say the least.
"In high school, it was a little bit easier to just power through and just almost dunk on whoever," Boakye said. "But obviously in college, just the way I've seen how important the weight room is to basketball and I'm definitely looking forward to getting into the weight room even more."
Although ASU dropped all three of its games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, head coach Bobby Hurley's biggest takeaway from the tournament was the significant jump he saw from Boakye.
"He was probably the biggest positive on our trip to the Bahamas," Hurley said. "Just how he competed at times and rebounded and he appears to be catching up to the speed of the college game and getting his legs under him more after all the time he missed. I could see his role continuing to expand as the season progresses, but both of those guys (Enoch and freshman guard Jamiya Neal) have a really bright future in the program."
Hurley was impressed with the way Boakye handled different athletes of different sizes and pointed out the tenacity to get offensive and defensive rebounds while providing a presence in the paint.
Hurley also acknowledged that Boakye is still a work in progress and he won't be mistake-free, saying that he pursues the ball around the basket and is starting to figure it out.
"He’s really in the infant stages of starting to figure out what he can do with his body and how he can impact the game," Hurley said.
It didn't take long for Boakye to encounter his "welcome to college basketball" moment, after ASU lost to University of California, Riverside on a buzzer-beating 60-foot court shot on Nov. 11, losing 66-65.
"Yeah that was definitely a welcome to college (basketball moment), I didn't think I had the greatest experience," Boakye said. "I missed a dunk there and whatnot so all that stuff was definitely a welcome to college and just learning from it, taking that loss and turning it into a lesson."
Personally, Boakye said he's been doing well to start the season as he adjusts to playing at the next level and will look to improve on running the floor more throughout the season. He is thankful to be playing for ASU as a Sun Devil and to be surrounded by Hurley and the assistant coaches as he gets better with every practice.
So far this season, he is averaging 13.4 minutes per game, 3.9 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game.
In Wednesday's dreadful 51-29 loss against Washington State University, Boakye played solid for ASU with three blocks and eight rebounds in just 17 minutes. However, Washington State head coach Kyle Smith thought the game was poor on both ends.
"We got off to a 10-0 start. ASU's quickness has always given us a lot of problems, we were just trying to survive and not turnover," Smith said after the game. "We had nine turnovers, we missed (five) free throws, we missed the front end on the one-on-one, but we stayed in there and sustained it by just guarding them back."
Boakye also realizes that coming into the program, there was a need for a big guy in the paint and looks forward to filling a much-needed role. He anticipates that with this game behind him, the team can hopefully have more success.
"I'm going to come in and I'm going to fill in a role that's needed and also makes me feel like I'm needed," Boakye said. "You also got to work hard for it. So I've been in practice putting my head down and grinding and coaches have noticed that and I'm happy to just be here at ASU and play the role I'm supposed to be playing."
"Anytime I make a mistake or I'm just not in it or something is going on, they always remind me what it takes to play at this level and I gotta step it up," Boakye said. "That's what it means to be a Sun Devil."
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Austin Scott is a sports reporter majoring in Sports Journalism, and has been writing sports stories for three years. He looks to continue writing impactful, engaging sports stories for years to come. In the future, Austin wants to use his outgoing personality to do play-by-play and live sports production or sports radio and podcasting.