His approach to the game is vindictive; his competitiveness fierce; his preparation relentless; his skill set uncompromising, and now the results are finally beginning to show.
Enter Okay Djamgouz.
A late bloomer, sniper Okay Djamgouz is determined through his work ethic to becoming a top prospect in the 2020 class entering his sophomore year at St. Ignatius of Loyola Secondary School in Oakville.
Richard Stewart, a former NCAA player at St. Joes, Canadian basketball hall of famer and Advanced basketball trainer of over 20 years, has witnessed Okay’s mindset first hand, working-out the Oakville native since the age of seven.
“I would say Okay’s work ethic is one of the best I have ever seen,” explains Stewart. “He’s comparable to that of Dillion Brooks, or Shamiel Stevenson.”
“His motor is extremely high,” added Stewart. “I would try to kill him with drills, but eventually I still have to kick him out of the gym.”
“We’re talking about a Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan type mindset.”
However, don’t let the now six-foot-four wing fool you with his feathery touch because, although he always had the will, his physicals and confidence wasn’t always this high.
Much like his introduction to basketball by his father Tevfik, a self-professed lover of the game, Okay’s game has had to overcome some early road bumps.
“When he was ten months old I took him to an NBA game” conveyed Tevfik, “Vince Carter scores, with a dunk of course, and the place goes crazy and Okay starts crying – he was afraid most of the first half!”
However things took a turn for the better as Tevfik recalls, “Third quarter (Okay) is looking around, and 4th quarter he’s dancing, I’m like okay this kids got it now.”
Similar to the beginning of Okay’s first NBA game, when I was first introduced to Okay in grade eight, he was a skinny, shy, and passive player who was wide eyed and timid to the whole experience.
Suiting up for the Mississauga Wolverines and coached by legendary Canadian basketball star Phil Dixon he rarely saw playing time, consistently being benched due to Dixon’s tough love approach.
If there was one slip up, one blown assignment, or one shot given up there was a substitute coming in. Dixon made sure to keep Djamgouz on a tight leash using that to fuel his competitiveness.
“He was strict with Okay”, explained Tevfik, “but coach Dixon would always explain I am extra hard on you because you have the potential, you are one of my top skilled players.”
Okay also remembers the toughness coach Dixon showed, saying “Because he always went harder on me, it helped me focus on the little details which helped me in grade nine come all together as a player. He has really helped my development.”
2016 has really turned out to be Okay’s year. His work ethic along with skill set, now paired with his body has aided in his maturity. Djamgouz stays committed to his 6 am morning training sessions at his high school.
Through the Toronto Long Horns, an AAU team, Djamgouz court development with Charles Scott of Toronto Long Horns sharpened his abilities.
Couple that with building his strength at sports specific training with trainer Delroy Rhooms and Okay has had a beneficial year of development.
At the UA Next first session in Washington, Djamgouz ranked fourth in player efficiency, with the list citing top players such as Baltimore’s Che Evans Jr and New Jersey’s E.J. Evans.
At the CP3 Rising Stars camp, Okay went out and made a name for himself garnering “the ShotTracker shooter of the week” award, an honour that was given to him over 120 other participants.
Djamgouz was also selected to the Jim Couch Classic in New York, an event where NBA players such as Thon Maker, Kemba Walker, and Steve Nash, to name a few, have participated in. Okay did well managing 11 points on 5/6 shooting from the floor.
North of the boarder Djamgouz was a scoring machine this year becoming a common name especially on HooptownGTA’s 25-point club for junior basketball. He then took his talents south of the boarder staring in various high level events.
With accomplishment it is easy for one to fade away, believing that they have already “made it”.
And it is simple for Okay, he works at his game because his intentions are pure, he does it for the love of the game.
“I always have had a great work ethic because I love the game and I just love playing it,” explains Okay. “I’ve just always been competitive and wanted to be the best.”
Djamgouz is also a honour roll student, and also holds a 94 percent average in his math class.
He knows all of these accolades are small steps in his progression as a basketball player. His short-term goals remain untouched, work hard every day and win every game.
His long-term goals are high-level division one offers and eventually the NBA.
But his laser focus and work ethic are attributes that stay close to Djamgouz, as they are staples not only to his game but his life in general.