When fans talk about college recruits in the Wichita area, conversations largely focus on City League athletes.
Rarely does anyone, even the most knowledgeable fan, mention Raphael Akpejiori or Leon Cooper.
That’s because the two play for tiny Sunrise Christian Academy, which has 160 high school students and isn’t a member of the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
Akpejiori, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound center from Nigeria averaging 24 points, signed with Miami (Fla.) in the fall. Cooper, a 6-foot guard from the Bahamas averaging 20 points, is being recruited by schools such as TCU, Oral Roberts and Louisiana Tech.
The duo weren’t too inclined to talk Friday night about their ability or the recruiting process. Sunrise (17-2) lost to visiting Dodge City 44-40, and Akpejiori and Cooper were displeased with their play.
“I don’t like my game right now. I need to get better,” said Akpejiori, who finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in 22 minutes.
Akpejiori controlled the lane, though. When Dodge City (12-2) tried to get to the basket, his long arms were there to block shots or force the Demons to alter those shots. On offense, he used his strength to get the rim for baskets or score on rebound baskets.
As for Cooper, his quickness and long arms give him an edge on defense. He also has the athletic ability to throw down cheer-inducing dunks or slash to the basket for a layup. He had 12 points, four rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes.
Neither played in the second quarter because of foul trouble, but they combined to score all of Sunrise’s 19 second-half points.
With such a talented pair, Sunrise coach Kyle Lindsted is confident that his team could play with City League teams. He’s not just saying that — Lindsted has seen his team play with and defeat some of the top teams in Texas and Florida.
“You can look at the kids on our team, and pound for pound and game for game and match them up with the kids in the City League,” Lindsted said. “Look at the schools recruiting them.æ.æ.æ. With our size, who better to compete with the big boys of the City League than us?”
— Joanna Chadwick