DES MOINES, Iowa--The Drake men's basketball program has received signed letters of intent from two incoming student-athletes for the 2012-13 school year.
Daddy Ugbede (oo-BED-ay), a 6'-7", 220-pound power forward from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., and Robert Puleikis (poo-LAY-kiss), a 6'-10", 215-pound center from Detroit (Mich.) Country Day will join the Bulldogs as freshmen in 2012-13.
"We are excited about Daddy and Robert joining our Bulldog family," said head coach Mark Phelps. "Both young men are outstanding citizens, excellent students and add talent, depth, and size to our front court. They complete an eight-man class that we are extremely excited about. Together with Jordan, Ben, Seth, Jeremy, and Karl, we have a team that our staff enthusiastically looks forward to working with."
Ugbede helped lead Junipero Serra to a 31-3 record in 2011-12, and the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section 4AA crown. He scored 32 points in the championship game against a LaVerne Lutheran team led by McDonald's All-American Grant Jarrett.
"Daddy is a strong, versatile forward who plays with consistent high energy," Phelps said. "He attacks the basket off the dribble and embraces physical play around the rim. He has a nice combination of back to the basket moves and the ability to play on the perimeter. I'm excited about how Daddy will develop and impact our team right away. He comes to Drake with a hunger for improvement, a college-ready body, and a work ethic that will serve him and our team very well."
A native of Nigeria who moved to the United States before his junior year, Ugbede averaged 15.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a senior and was named All-CIF. He was named by the Daily Breeze as boys basketball Player of the Year for 2012, and served as co-captain for the Cavaliers.
Puleikis was the leading scorer and rebounder, at 12.7 and 10.5, respectively, for a Country Day squad that compiled a 21-6 record last season and advanced to the semifinals of the Michigan Class B state tournament and was ranked No. 3 in the state. He played one season at Country Day after moving to the United States from his native Lithuania before his senior year, and earned all-county and honorable mention all-state.
"Robert is a long, rangy, skilled post player," Phelps said. "He has a very good feel for the game, and, as is the case with many European trained players, he understands the value of playing together with teammates. He is an excellent passer and has the ability to score around the rim and also stretch the defense with his jump shot. Robert also runs the floor very well and will fit in quite nicely with the pace we want to play."
In the state regional final against Chandler Park Academy, Puleikis scored a season-high 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while adding five blocked shots. He played in 19 games after gaining eligibility via transfer policies, and added 34 blocked shots and 35 assists.
Puleikis and Ugbede have accepted the final two scholarships the Bulldogs have available for 2012-13, joining six other newcomers, including three other freshmen and three transfers. Chris Hines (6'-0") has one season of eligibility remaining after transferring from Utah and Gary Ricks, Jr. (6'-1") and Richard Carter (6'-0") each will have two seasons to play after transferring from Indian Hills Community College and Cloud County Community College, respectively.
The three other incoming freshman signees are Kori Babineaux (6'-4"; Sacramento, Calif./Foothills/Lake Forest Academy), Joey King (6'-9"; Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview High School) and Micah Mason (6'-2"; Allegheny, Pa./Highlands High School).