Akamune provides extra energy off the bench

WKU senior forward O’Karo Akamune shoots the ball during the game against Texas State in Diddle Arena on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Tyler Lashbrook

Speak to anyone involved in the WKU basketball program about O’Karo Akamune and they’ll all tell you the same thing: The 6-foot-7 senior forward plays with a ton of energy.

“Since I’ve been here, O’Karo has always been a high energy guy,” junior forward George Fant said. “He’s a senior now, so you know he’s going to step up.”

Akamune missed the first 14 games of the season with broken foot, but is averaging 3.6 points and 4.4 rebounds since returning.

The stat sheet, however, doesn’t fully tell the story of Akamune’s importance to the team.

The senior leads by example by flying around for loose balls, trapping hard in WKU’s full court press, tracking down rebounds and providing a sturdy presence in its interior defense.

As most everyone notes, he brings a lot of energy. 

That was on display in WKU’s comeback win over Texas-Arlington Thursday night.

“(O’Karo) came in and brought a ton of energy,” freshman point guard Chris Harrison-Docks said after the game. “I don’t think if we had O tonight, I don’t think we would have been in a position we were at the end of the game.”

The senior finished with nine points, nine rebounds and gave the Toppers a lot of length and athleticism in their full-court trapping defense.

“I thought his energy was the difference in the basketball game,” Harper said after the game. ”I don’t know that there was one possession in the game that I saw O’Karo take the possession off. He just didn’t; he was alert. He went to try to rebound it.

“The mistakes he made tonight, they were because he was too aggressive. They were not because he was not alert and reacting slowly. He was terrific.”

Two nights later, in a hard fought win against Texas State, Akamune was again aggressive and he provided the Toppers a much needed spark off the bench.

“He has a lot to prove,” Fant said after the game. “Obviously, he has been sticking around and every year he’s gotten better and better. This is a finished product. He’s ready to step it up some more and keep building on what’s he doing.”

As a senior, he’s also very aware of his role, which is maybe the single most important thing he brings to the team.

“I’m a high energy guy,” Akamune said. “I can move well and run in transition.

“I’m just really blessed to have the opportunity to play.”

Harper said after the Texas State game that his senior forward was once again “the difference” in the game.

“He is just a step quicker than guys right now. If we can get some more guys playing the ways he’s playing, we’ll be okay.”