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Somto Cyril commits to Kentucky

Cyril will rock Kentucky blue, but it appears it won’t be for next season.

Somto Cyril Overtime Elite

The Kentucky Wildcats have made another addition to the men’s basketball program!

On Wednesday, big man Somtochukwu ‘Somto’ Cyril pledged his commitment to the Wildcats.

247 Sports’ Travis Branham broke the news first, adding it’s unlikely Cyril will reclassify into the 2023 class.

“They have been one of the schools I watched as a kid,” Cyril told 247 on why he chose Kentucky. “Growing up as a kid playing basketball, I think that was the first college basketball I watched.

“When I started playing I didn’t know much about basketball so I started watching on YouTube and I saw some of Anthony Davis’ highlights and how he played in college so I think that was the moment I fell in love with the game and who I wanted to be.”

With Oscar Tshiebwe remaining in the NBA Draft, the Wildcats needed to find a player that could contribute in the frontcourt. As a response, they looked to Cyril, who originally caught their eyes in the summer of 2021, just a few months after arriving in the States from his home country of Nigeria - raised in Enugu, just a few hours away from fellow Wildcat Ugonna Onyenso in Owerri.

Originally a part of the 2024 class, Cyril was expected to reclassify and join the team this coming season. However, that appears unlikely now based on what Branham is reporting.

Nonetheless, this is a big addition for the program, even if it’s not until the 2024-25 season.

Cyril’s 7-foot, 240-pound frame certainly suggests his body is ready for the college game. He’s currently ranked 40th overall in the 2024 class by Rivals and 35th by On3.

Combining his physique and knack for trying to break the backboard, Cyril has been given the nickname “Baby Shaq”

The physical tools are apparent, but he currently makes the majority of his impact on the glass and defensively. In fact, he told On3’s Joe Tipton last year, “When I first started playing, I didn’t know how to put the ball in the basket.”

This is where his knack for defense began.

“My coach told me, ‘Even if you can’t score, you can still stop the other team from scoring’, so that’s the mindset I have. I block shots and get rebounds for my teammates. I don’t have to score, I just want to win the game,” Cyril explained.

In just 20 minutes per game for Overtime Elite this past season, Cyril averaged 8.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a league-leading 3.4 blocks. For his efforts, Cyril was named the 2023 OTE Defensive Player of the Year while also earning First-Team All-OTE honors.

Looking ahead, Kentucky will hope the recent transfer addition of West Virginia forward Tre Mitchell can help offset the loss of Oscar Tshiebwe, who fans just said goodbye to after a historically great career.

Tshiebwe also met with Cyril during a visit in October of 2021.

“I watched him when I was visiting, and he put people to shame,” Cyril said of Tshiebwe. “I stood next to him, and he’s like 6-9, 6-8. He’s not really that tall, but when I see him play, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ He’s doing a really good job to get those stats, like 20 and 20. That’s crazy.”

In the coming years, Cyril has the chance to follow in his footsteps at Kentucky, a program he “would always watch on TV” growing up.

As for next season, Kentucky could look to add one more body in the frontcourt if another transfer emerges. But as of right now, the 2023-24 roster appears set, with Cyril set to join the team sometime in 2024.

Check out some highlights of the newest Wildcat in action!

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