One way to get bigger, more experienced and better is to bring in grad transfers.

New Utah Valley men’s basketball coach Mark Madsen and his staff have been busy replenishing the roster this spring and added another solid big man to the mix on Wednesday in 6-foot-8 Akron grad transfer Emmanuel Olojakpoke. Olojakpoke’s numbers don’t jump out too much, although 25 blocks in 15 games as a sophomore speaks about his commitment to defense. The change in scenery can often be a catalyst to a player really finding his groove.

Olojakpoke has a remarkable story: He missed about nine months between his sophomore and junior year due because of a growth on his mitral valve leaflet which required open heart surgery.

Last year, Olojakpoke played in 31 games but averaged just 10.5 minutes and 1.6 points. As a sophomore before the surgery, he started 14 games averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. As a grad transfer, Olojakpoke will be able to play right away for the Wolverines.

Here’s the full release:

“Utah Valley University men’s basketball coach Mark Madsen has announced that Akron forward Emmanuel Olojakpoke will transfer to UVU and play for the Wolverines this upcoming season.

“‘Eman is a game changer on both ends of the court,’ said Madsen. ‘On the offensive end, Emmanuel is a strong finisher with a career field goal percentage of over 60%. Defensively, Eman gives new meaning to phrase ‘rim protection.’ In his most recent season he had six blocks in a single game during conference play. Eman is an above the rim player who understands angles and how to stifle the other teams sets.

“‘In the classroom, Eman is a conscientious student who will add to every discussion and small group project. He will be a tremendous asset to the Utah Valley program and to this community. I could not be more excited to Welcome Eman to the Wolverine family.’

“The 6-foot-8 Texas native played in 15 games and made 13 starts during his sophomore season at Akron. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game during the 2017-18 campaign. He recorded a 61.5% mark from the field and tallied 25 blocks, six assists, and seven steals. Olojakpoke saw time in 31 games last season for the Zips, averaging 10.5 minutes a contest. He shot 59 percent from the field and tallied an impressive 25 blocks.

“During his three seasons at Akron, Olojakepoke averaged 2.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. He shot 63.2% (98-of-155) from the field over his 78 games played.

Olojakepoke prepped at Cypress Springs High School in Texas. He averaged 14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.3 blocked shots per game during his senior season (2014-15). He was named Defensive Player of the Year in his district following his junior season.

“Olojakepoke has one season of eligibility remaining and is set to play for the Wolverines during the upcoming 2019-20 season.”

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at

Darnell Dickson, who has been covering sports in Utah since 1989 (with a detour to Nebraska for three years somewhere in there), is currently the BYU football columnist and BYU men’s basketball beat writer.

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