Two months before he won a national title with Villanova, Jay Wright sat in Lawrence Woodmere Academy’s gym. St. John’s Chris Mullin visited twice, as well, and if Aidan Igiehon continues to progress, the small private school will become a big-time stop for college coaches on the recruiting trail.
Prospects like Igiehon do not frequently play high school basketball on Long Island. The 6-10, 225-pound sophomore center, who left Ireland and enrolled at LWA as an eighth-grader, has all the physical tools to climb the Class of 2019’s recruiting rankings and essentially handpick his college.
St. John’s, Villanova and Seton Hall are among the handful that have offered scholarships, and Duke, Kansas and Syracuse are among the dozens that have reached out, according to New York Lightning (AAU) director Dana Dingle, who is helping Igiehon handle the recruiting process.
But despite the burgeoning interest, Igiehon is not yet a household name in the class of 2019.. The recruiting website 247sports.com slotted him at No. 58 in its most recent 2019 rankings — up from No. 77 — but that’s as high as you’ll see Igiehon at the start of his third varsity season.
“I think a lot of national scouts . . . have not probably seen him,” said Dinos Trigonis, who produces the scouting service Fullcourt Press and runs the prestigious Pangos All-East Frosh/Soph camp. Igiehon was co-most outstanding player of the camp’s Top 30 game in October. “He’s probably a top-10 to top-20 guy in that  class.”
Four years ago in Ireland, you were more likely to find Igiehon on a soccer pitch than a basketball court. Then he sprouted to 6-4 in the seventh grade. People suggested he trade his spikes for high-tops, so he gave basketball a chance and fell in love.
That summer, Igiehon came to the United States with the Dublin Lions to face American competition. He instantly became friends with Jordan Dingle, Dana’s son, when the Lions visited Long Island, decided he wanted the challenge of playing for an American high school and chose to follow Dingle to LWA.
“When I met [Igiehon] and his family, he seemed like a wonderful kid with a nice family,” LWA coach Jeff Weiss said. “He was a good student — did very well on the entrance exams. It was kind of like a no-brainer, and then the basketball piece was obviously a huge plus to that.”
Igiehon left his mother, Nibokun, in Ireland to live with an aunt and uncle in Brooklyn. Even though his size belied his age, Igiehon was still an eighth-grader prone to missing his mother.
“At first it was rough,” Igiehon said. “I got homesick a lot.”
But Weiss was in his corner. So was Karim Shabazz, a phys ed teacher at LWA who happens to be a 7-2 former professional basketball player. They helped mentor Igiehon through the tough times.
Now, as a sophomore, Igiehon is equally proud of his GPA — “I have about a 3.7, 3.8” — while taking advanced placement and honors courses as he is of his improvements on the court. And those improvements are sizable.
During the last few months, Future150.com national recruiting analyst Brian Flinn noticed Igiehon take “incredible” strides from an explosive but raw floor runner and shot blocker to an aggressive finisher with a growing arsenal of post moves and an increasingly effective midrange jumper.
“What I saw was a guy who was super explosive off the floor,” said Eric Hampford, Flinn’s co-worker at Future150.com, who scouted the Pangos camp. “Basically everything he got his hands on he was trying to dunk.”
Igiehon agreed that he has changed.
“I was always told, ‘You have the potential,’ but potential can only take you so far,” he said. “I had to really just think like why can’t I dominate? That transition in the last six months, my mindset is really what changed. So did my work ethic.”
The attention Igiehon has received from iconic college coaches and scouts could cloud many 16-year-olds’ heads with thoughts of grandeur. Igiehon promises he is different — that his ego will not swell and impede his path to basketball stardom beyond the high school level.
“I was always raised to be humble,” said Igiehon, who averaged 19 points, six rebounds and six blocks last year. “I don’t have a lot of people that tell me I’m great. They always tell me what I do wrong, and that’s what I’m used to.”
That can make one wonder: If Igiehon still has weaknesses, how good will he be three years from now?
“For as good as he has become, I think possibly the most intriguing thing about Aidan is that there’s still a ton of room for growth,” Flinn said. “His upside is pretty limitless at this point.”