Basketball recruits flock to Findlay Prep

Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck said the basketball program’s first year in 2006-07 was all about getting headed down the right path.

But Year 2 has taken Peck in a different direction.

East.

And roughly 7,500 miles away.

The first-year Pilots coach — he was associate head coach last season after three years as an assistant at UNLV — traveled to Nigeria on a recruiting trip, landing 6-foot-9-inch sophomore swingman Godwin Okonji.

Okonji is one of seven new recruits, and Peck credits assistant coach Todd Simon with creating the necessary relationships to bring them to Las Vegas.

“Recruiting is our foundation, definitely our lifeline,” Peck said. “A lot of the U.S. (players) have guys attached to them — an AAU coach, an uncle, a brother — and you’ve gotta get in that circle. That’s what Coach Simon has done an excellent job at — he’s gotten in those circles.

“And then you sell your product.”

Findlay boasts five players taller than 6-8 on a squad that will travel across the country to play other prep schools.

And with four players scheduled to sign Division I letters of intent next week, including Chicago’s DeAndre Liggins, who will head to Kentucky next fall, the team could be an easy sell.

“I’ve said this since Day 1, and I’ll continue to say it — I will go in front of anybody and sell our product,” Peck said. “We have the best product out there. I’m not saying there’s not another great program, but if there’s a better setup all encompassing, you need to prove it to me and show it to me.”

Peck’s confidence is one of the things that attracted Lithuanian sharpshooter Deividas Dulkys to Findlay. But the 6-5 shooting guard, one of six foreign-born players on the team, said he most appreciated Peck’s toughness.

“This is a perfect setup for a basketball player and for a student-athlete,” said Dulkys, who will sign a letter of intent with Florida State on November 14. “I’ve learned to be tough. That’s probably the biggest thing; you have to be tough to be able to play at this level. Coach Peck is a hard coach, and you have to be prepared for it.”

Contact reporter Jon Gold at jgold@reviewjournal.com.

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