VALPARAISO | Nine games into his Valparaiso career and Jubril Adekoya isn’t exactly setting the world on fire with his personal statistics.
Then again, personal statistics never tell the entire story.
Adekoya averages a pedestrian 5.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in just 15.3 minutes of action and the Chicago native has never been among the top four scorers in a game for the Crusaders.
That doesn’t mean Adekoya isn’t having an impact. He has the highest +/- ratio of any player in the rotation per 40 minutes and the Crusaders are a staggering 84 points better than the competition when Adekoya is on the floor.
“When we recruited Jubril, he played on a very good AAU team (Meanstreets) on the Nike circuit and he was going against the best players in the country,” Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew said. “We saw that he always found ways to impact the game. His stat line may not always look great, but if the team is doing well when he’s in there, that means something.”
Adekoya struggled to find minutes in the early stages of the season before finding his footing against Evansville. The Crusaders trailed by 25 points at the half, but momentum shifted once Adekoya entered the game. Adekoya’s spark helped lead to Valparaiso outscoring the Purple Aces by 16 points when he was on the floor despite the freshman finishing with just four points.
“I see myself as the guy who is going to hustle, play as hard as I can and basically do all the dirty work,” Adekoya said. “I’m not worried about points. Whatever I can do to help the team win is whatever I’ll do on the court.”
Drew rewarded Adekoya’s success against Evansville with a starting assignment the next game and the freshman hasn’t relinquished the spot since. Valparaiso outscored James Madison by 30 points and UCF by 12 when Adekoya was on the floor.
It may have taken longer than some of his other freshmen teammates, but Adekoya is playing meaningful minutes for the Crusaders.
“Of course anybody would want to play on the team they are on and I understand the process of how things usually work,” Adekoya said. “We just happen to have half of our team made up of freshmen. I knew there would be opportunities and I concentrated on working hard in practice and being ready for when my number was called.”
Adekoya joined the starting lineup after a three-game road losing streak in which the Crusaders fell behind by double digits within the first seven minutes of each game. After proving themselves at home with quick starts in each of the last four games, it’s time for the new-look Crusaders to take their act back on the road against Ball State this evening.
“The coaches do a great job of getting us prepared through the scouting reports and in practice,” Adekoya said. “It’s our job as a unit to carry that plan out and we have to do it immediately from the jump.”