Standout Hoopsters Commit to Dogs
April 16, 2010
FRESNO, Calif. - As Steve Cleveland's "Built to Last" program prepares for its sixth season, Fresno State restocked their roster with the addition of two future Bulldogs - Bracken Funk and Kevin Olekaibe, who each submitted their official National Letters of Intent to compete for the Bulldogs in the upcoming 2010-11 season.
Both high school stars excelled as premier performers on the floor and in the classroom. Each will compete for immediate playing time as freshmen.
"Both Kevin and Bracken are outstanding students, committed to the classroom and can help us right away on the basketball floor," Cleveland said of his signees.
Olekaibe, a 6-1 point guard from Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas, Nev., is Nevada's leading high school scorer and fifth in the nation for this past season. As a first team all-state honoree and two-time first-team All-Sunset region, he averaged 35.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.6 steals per game during his senior campaign. Olekaibe's 1,065 points is the second highest mark in the state of Nevada's history and he finished his Cimarron-Memorial High School career as the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,779 points as two-year varsity starter. On the season, he also converted 50 percent (221-446) of his field goal attempts, 37 percent (57-153) from beyond the 3-point arc and notched an 81 percent clip (142-176) at the free throw line. In his junior season, he recorded an average of 22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.8 steals.
A vibrant and electrifying impact contributor, Olekaibe (pronounced O-lay-key-bay) scored at least 50 points in two games this past season and reached the 40-point plateau in nine contests. As one of seven children, his family sports a deep pedigree on the hardwood and molded his strong character. His older brothers, Ike and Emmanuel, each played college basketball. Ike was a two-time NCAA All-American at Purdue University and Emmanuel competed for South Western Oregon Community College and the NAIA's Everest College. His parents are originally from Lagos, Nigeria and draws on the experiences through his family to understand hard work and the vital determination necessary to follow his dreams.
"Kevin's ability to bounce it and shoot it will be real asset to our program," Cleveland said of the Nevada scoring sensation. "He will be able to really stretch a defense with his offensive presence. He also has a very high basketball IQ and has the potential to make everybody around him better."
Olekaibe fell in love with the Bulldog program and looks forward to making an immediate impact.
"I like their coaches, players, weight room and facility. Just everything," Olekaibe said of why he chose to be a Bulldog. "The offensive system is fast. They want a point guard who can score in transition or set somebody up, and I can do those things. They run a lot of ball screens, and I'm good off ball screens."
Funk, a 20-year-old, 6-foot-8 small forward from Highland, Utah, powered his Lone Peak High School Knights to three Utah state championships. As a junior, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 5A state championship game after leading Lone Peak to a 26-1 record, highlighted by the Knights' second state title in three seasons on Funk's 19 points in the championship contest where they soundly defeated Riverton, 68-43.
Over the course of his junior year, Funk averaged nearly 12 points per game. He also earned 5A first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior. Funk finished his high school career as Lone Peak's all-time leading rebounder and elevated the Knights to a No. 25 national ranking by USA Today during his senior season. He recently returned from a two-year church mission.
"Bracken is a tough-minded competitor, who is fundamentally sound on both ends of the court," Cleveland said of Funk. "I love his aggression level and basketball IQ."
Funk is excited to get on campus and compete for titles on a yearly basis.
"The choice of Fresno State was easy - it's a great place, with a great coaching staff, with great players," Funk said of his decision. "I'm stoked to come and play as a Bulldog. I'm looking forward to winning ourselves several WAC championships and head to the NCAA Tournament."
Funk and Olekaibe join John Ryan, who signed during the fall signing period, as members of the talented 2010-11 recruiting class primed to help spark the Bulldogs' run for the 2011 WAC Championship.
Ryan completed a strong senior season with averages of 21 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and four blocks per game. He recently earned his second straight first-team all-league honors, a nomination for the McDonalds All-American team, an exclusive spot on the South Bay All-Star team and played in the Los Angeles versus Riverside All-Star Game. Ryan was also named El Segundo High School's Most Valuable Player, Best Passer and Best Rebounder.
"John has the ability to come into the program and have an immediate impact," Cleveland said. "We look forward to having John on campus this summer to take classes and begin an intense offseason strength and conditioning program. John is a smart player that has a great upside."
Cleveland expects to ink additional future Bulldogs during the remainder of the spring signing period that runs until mid-May.
"We Are Your Team!" - The Bulldogs, with a talented slate of nationally honored returners and highly skilled newcomers, is scheduled to open the 2010-11 season at No. 22 Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, on Nov. 12, 2010. For the latest Bulldog coverage and all-access to Fresno State Athletics, make sure to continue visiting www.gobulldogs.com.