O.J. Avworo had just wrapped up scoring a career-high 12 points in Friday’s defeat of Wofford, and it was tough not to think about the circumstances during which the Navy sophomore last hit double figures.
He was a freshman. OK, that’s easy enough to consider.
He was also playing at Idaho, against cross-state rival Boise State.
“It’s definitely a long time ago,” said Avworo, whose Midshipmen (10-4) visit Elon tonight. “It was a completely different team. I barely remember that game. It’s a whole new image. different guys, different me, different coach, different everything.”
Yet there he is in Annapolis, a long, long way from Moscow, Idaho. And Avworo is settling in as the Mids’ point guard, a crucial development for a team trying to find a way to place its top scorers in ideal situations.
With Avoworo, Navy can move Chris Harris off the ball (as it has for much of this season). Kaleo Kina, in turn, fits in as a logical third guard.
But there still is an adjustment. Avworo sat out last season in compliance with the NCAA’s transfer rules, taking in a typical plebe year. His eligibility and academic status now synchronized, he’s started all season for Navy.
“We’re excited just to have a pure, pure point guard,” Navy coach Billy Lange said. “I think he thinks the game like that. Now we’re balancing his fundamentals, the way we want the team ran, the communication, the defensive ownership. He’s come a long way and gotten a lot better in two months, which is encouraging. it really is.”
Avworo’s night against Wofford —- which also featured eight assists —- arrived at the right time. Before Friday, he had 44 assists against 39 turnovers, a total that need to improve once Patriot League play begins this weekend.
Perhaps there was an adjustment period. It would certainly make sense. But if Avworo has settled in, it will make Navy a serious threat for a conference title run.
“I think there’s a lot that goes into being a point guard, especially under coach Lange,” Avworo said. “He has high expectations. Just being able to take care of every guy, and leadership both offensively and defensively, I think it takes a little bit of time.”
—- Patrick Stevens