The Rockville (Md.) Rams forced their way to a 14-11 record in 2017-18. That would be a fine accomplishment for any program, but it was particularly notable for Rockville, which was coming off a 2-22 season and appeared to have little hope for a turnaround … until the arrival of 16-year-old freshman Jimmy Sorunke. The 6-foot-10 Nigerian immigrant was a game-changer for Rockville.
Unfortunately, a report claims that’s because Sorunke is closer to drinking age than to his American high school peers.
According to Deadspin’s Dave McKenna, a Washington D.C.-based reporter who has long had deep contacts in the basketball scene, Sorunke is actually 20-year-old Olujimi Sorunke Abayomi, a man who has already attended the equivalent of college in Nigeria, let alone high school.
While McKenna has no hard and fast definite evidence connecting Jimmy Sorunke with Olujimi Sorunke Abayomi, the list of his circumstantial connections is plenty damning. Among them:
- A photo and profile piece from 2016 of a 6-foot-11, then 18-year-old Olujimi Sorunke Abayomi from the personal website of the Nigerian entertainment promoter MAPGIST that looks nearly identical to Jimmy Sorunke.
- Sorunke’s name when he came to the U.S. to attempt to play for Huntington Prep (which released him): Olujimi Sorunke.
- The 2016 MAPGIST profile says the mammoth MAPOLY student’s Twitter handle was “baby shaq38,” which is now Jimmy Sorunke’s Instagram handle.
- Photos and videos show Sorunke competing in an NBA-backed 3-on-3 event in Nigeria that was limited to participants ages 18-35.
Add to that the background of the man who brought Sorunke to Rockville — Joe Boncore — and there is legitimate reason to doubt Sorunke’s high school bona fides. Boncore helped bring Moses Abraham, a mysterious Nigerian prospect who later was found to have taken impermissible benefits from Boncore, and later helped facilitate the arrival of Daddy Echebo, a fellow Nigerian who eventually wound up at Drake.
When confronted by McKenna, Boncore insisted Sorunke’s paperwork checks out. And he says the photo trail that seems to indicate Sorunke is 20 was actually just an elaborate recruiting attempt by a college in Nigeria. It’s plausible, if a bit far-fetched.
Naturally, it’s critical to know who is really telling the truth. If Sorunke is found to be 20 years old, he would immediately be ineligible to play high school basketball in Maryland. If he actually is just 16, Rockville should have three very promising seasons in front of it.