Ugonna Kingsley Onyenso has officially signed with the Kentucky Wildcats and will reclassify to join the 2022-23 team, the school announced Monday.
Kingsley becomes the fourth class of 2022 recruit to sign with the Wildcats, joining Chris Livingston, Adou Thiero and Cason Wallace.
“What excited me most about Ugonna is he wanted to not only be here but wanted to be here to train with us and learn from guys like Oscar (Tshiebwe) and Lance (Ware) immediately and help us chase a national title,” John Calipari said in a press release.
“Ugonna has unbelievable natural athleticism and great instincts for a young player. He is going to be able to defend at the rim and is a terrific finisher. Ugonna has only been in the United States since January but has been fully immersed in basketball for several years with his experience at the NBA Academy in Africa.
"The staff and I are excited to help push him every day in a competitive and focused environment as he continues to improve and become the best version of himself both on and off the floor.”
The 6-foot-11, 225-pound center spent this past season at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut. He's a native of Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria.
“I’m proud to join the Kentucky basketball family and I can’t wait to help work for a national championship,” said Onyenso in a press release. “I’m so comfortable with Coach Cal and the staff and I know they will help me reach my goals as long as I work hard and come to play every day.
"I’m excited for their positionless style of play and I know I’m going to continue to get better because I’ll be pushed every day in practice with players who have the same drive that I do. I can’t wait to get to campus in August and get started.”
Onyenso joined Putnam this past January, and the team went 20-0 with him on the roster. He averaged 11.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.7 blocks per game while shooting 64.4% from the floor with five games of at least 10 blocks. He even had a 24-point, 11-rebound, 11-block triple-double.
Playing at the NBA Academy Games this summer, Onyenso scored in double figures in six games, averaging 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 64.4% from the field.
Onyenso is one of the youngest players ever to make the senior men’s Nigerian National Team. He made his debut with the team at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 African Qualifiers in November of 2021, scoring 10 points on 5/8 shooting with four rebounds and two blocks in 16 minutes in a 96-69 win over Uganda.
Following that performance, veteran Nigerian Ike Diogu said of Onyenso: “He’s the future. Plain and simple. I’m telling you guys now. He’s the future.”
Prior to enrolling at Putnam, Onyenso spent time at the NBA Academy Africa, an elite basketball training facility in Saly, Senegal for the top high school age prospects from across Africa. He helped NBA Academy Africa win the European Youth Basketball League Tournament in Hungary in February of 2020.