Born in Lagos, Nigeria and standing 6’7, Somachi Agbapu has been a defensive anchor of U of T’s Varsity Blues men’s basketball team since he joined in 2018–2019. Earning a career high 16 points in a game against Ottawa last year and averaging 5.2 points a game, the forward was on an upward trajectory at the beginning of 2020.
Agbapu works his butt off on the boards and on the defensive end. His willingness to take himself out of the limelight and do what has to be done for the sake of the team shows a maturity and selflessness that’s rare from anyone, but especially when you’re literally a head and shoulder above everyone else.
Agbapu has also been a workhorse for the Blues since he stepped onto the court in Toronto, with a mentality that can’t be beat. “You’re not going to get the ball every time, so when you get the ball, you need to know what to do; you need to be efficient,” he said in an interview with The Varsity. This makes him a reliably good player on the court: “I’m not going to do something sporadic. I’m… straight to the point, get it done.”
I asked Agbapu about his biggest stylistic influences, and, describing the kinds of players he looks up to, he explained his own basketball mentality. “I saw The Dream, Hakeem Olajuwon, and I thought… ‘man, his footwork is nice!’… So I started working on my footwork,” he said. Then he started working to be more like Serge Ibaka.
What made Serge Ibaka great for the Toronto Raptors? He was a team player through and through, supporting his team all the way to the NBA finals. And this ability to service your skills for your teammates is not undervalued: Ibaka is a three-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, and a well-recognized great.
Like Ibaka, Agbapu adapts his game to his strengths and to the ways in which he can best help his team as a whole: “[I’m] very good at defense, so you have to play — catch a ball on the low post, boom, finish. One, or two dribble jump-hook… And now I’m trying to add mid-range jumpers.”
I was so excited to speak to a player with a mind like his. This is what all hoops junkies dream of from their players. We could not have won the 2019 title without Serge Ibaka, and the Blues cannot be the team they are without Somachi Agbapu.
Make sure you remember his name.