HUNTINGTON — It didn’t take Marshall freshman Obinna Anochili-Killen long to make his presence felt within the Herd’s lineup.
Just ask Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni, who saw that impact in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 31.
D’Antoni saw how quickly that Anochili-Killen’s energy on the defensive end can translate to offense for his team.
“One play typified (him),” D’Antoni said. “He got a rebound off the board, he outran everybody down the floor, laid it up on the other end. (He’s got a) high motor, good defensively off the ball and on the ball. He’s going to make us better. That’s why we recruited him.”
Marshall senior point guard Jarrod West, who sat out that scrimmage, pointed out another time Anochili-Killen showcased what he brings to the table.
“David (Early) went to the basket — and it was a good move,” West recalled. “Obinna made a great recovery and blocked it off the backboard. That led to a Mike (Beyers) dunk on a runout. That was a big play late in the scrimmage.”
West went in depth about how the play becomes crucial in the tempo style the Herd plays.
“That block led to a runout for his team,” West explained. “He saved a layup and Mike got a dunk. It was like a four-point swing. That type of athleticism, ability and him meshing that with his motor and how hard he plays, I feel like that makes him very impactful — especially on the defensive end. That gives us another dimension defensively that can guard multiple positions and protect the rim at a high level. That was a glimpse and example of what he can bring to the table.”
In his career at Chapmanville Regional, Anochili-Killen’s energy and athleticism brought roars to the Charleston Civic Center floor during the West Virginia high school basketball state tournament and he hopes to do the same at the Cam Henderson Center.
“It’s going to be the same thing,” Killen said with a smile. “Even in practice, it’s still the same thing. With Jarrod and Tae (Kinsey) and Darius (George), we are high-energy guys, so me seeing them doing that, that doesn’t stop me from doing it. I’m still going to be the same guy that’s all over the court.”
For Anochili-Killen, the focus is now enhancing the skill set he brought to the court each day with Chapmanville in making the Tigers the state’s top Class AA program.
Anochili-Killen credited Marshall’s veteran players and coaches for improving his game — even in the short period of time the team has practiced due to a pair of COVID-19 interruptions — the second of which is still ongoing.
“They have guided me to be a better player,” Anochili-Killen said. “If there are some things I don’t understand, they come up to me and they’ll be like, ‘Don’t do it this way; you’ve got to do it this way.’ You know, ‘This way isn’t going to work in college; this way will work.’ They’ve been mentoring me through it.
“In high school, I wasn’t that much of a 3-point shooter, but now my 3-point shot has gotten better because the coaching staff has done a good job of showing me stuff that I was doing wrong and making me correct that stuff. The correction, I have seen a lot of improvements.”
That improvement will continue as the Herd gets back to practice on Monday following its two-week quarantine.
Then, the intensity will increase with less than 10 days before the season opener against Coppin State on Nov. 25 at Cam Henderson Center.
While Anochili-Killen is in Huntington with the Herd now, he also said that he and Early haven’t forgotten about their hometowns of Chapmanville and Logan, which is with them each time they take the court.
The ability for fans to come to games at Cam Henderson Center is still being discussed amid COVID-19 issues, but Anochili-Killen said if fans are allowed to come, Logan County will have a large contingent — especially now that he and Early have teamed up.
The hope is that the duo of Anochili-Killen and Early will be a positive in the midst of difficulties with COVID-19 in their hometowns.
“We’re doing this for them, because without that community, there wouldn’t be no Obinna or no David Early without those fans coming to support us,” Anochili-Killen said. “Us coming over here, that unites the people and gives them hope.
“I know this pandemic is killing a lot of people and giving a lot of people long-term illness. At the end of the day, by God’s grace, this will be over and they can come watch us. The same two people bumping heads (before), they’ll be one and we are going to play together.”