The new K.C. Ndefo model is equipped with options that weren’t available last season.
“He wasn’t even allowed to shoot the three last year,” Elmont coach George Holub said of his precocious 6-5 junior, whose primary role on last year’s state Class A championship team was to block shots and rebound.
Ndefo sank five from downtown Saturday on his way to a 29-point performance that propelled the Spartans to a season-opening 57-46 victory over Albany CBA in the ninth Upstate/ Downstate Challenge at Uniondale High School.
“Hard work and dedication all summer,” Ndefo said of his expanded game. “I’m doing all I can to help the team and improve my game for the next level. I want to become a more rounded player.”
College recruiters might have ignored Ndefo if he were merely a shot-blocker — he had four Saturday plus several alterations — but they should be flocking to the Elmont showroom now that Ndefo has demonstrated that he can shoot the three, drive, pass out of the pivot and, of course, dominate with his rebounding and rejection skills. “It’s part of the new me,” he said.
The new Ndefo was evident early. On the game’s first possession, he drained a bank shot from the wing that he wouldn’t have even attempted last season. In the final minute of the first quarter, he nailed a three from the left corner, matching his entire downtown production from last season.
Seconds later, the Ndefo of old surfaced when he took an alley-oop lob from Victor Olawoye and jammed. In the second quarter, the full range of Ndefo’s skills were on display when he scored 11 consecutive points to put Elmont ahead 24-13. He hit back-to-back conventional three-point plays on aggressive drives, made a backcourt steal and dunk, then sank a straightaway three.
“That was our plan the whole offseason: to get K.C. to transition from an inside player to an outside player on offense,” Holub said. “He’s got a nice shot now. He’s not just a shot-blocker and rebounder. He’s multi-dimensional.”
He’s also the team leader. When Albany CBA cut a 13-point deficit to 47-43 with 2:57 left, Ndefo took over. He scored the Spartans’ next 10 points, beginning with a game-saving three from the right wing. He also demanded the ball from Olawoye at the top of the key and made another three before finishing his flurry with a steal and two-handed tomahawk slam.
“I took on the role of team leader,” Ndefo said. Just another part of the options package.