Team: GBA Lions | Country: Republic of Ireland | Birth Date: August 8th, 2003 | Dominant Hand: Left
Height: 6’5″ (without shoes) | Weight: 196lbs | Wingspan: 7’0″ | Standing Reach: 8’6″
Mobi Ikegwruka is an Irish player who cracked the GBA Lions’s rotation this season, in the Czech NBL. He is averaging 4.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 11.8 minutes. He was one of the rising stars of the Under-19 FIBA European Championship in 2019, before moving to the Czech Republic. Andrew Mastin wrote about him in 2020 and we have his profile here.
ID Prospects: Where did you grow up? And was your early life?
Mobi Ikegwuruka: So basically, I grew up in Galway, it’s like a city two hours from the capital, in Ireland. I have three siblings, one older brother, one older sister, and one younger sister. What honestly brought me into basketball was my brother, because like, this is my fourth year playing basketball. So I’m kind of like new to the game. So, I saw my brother play with friends, after school or German school type stuff. And I really wanted to, you know, start then. But I always felt like it was a bit too late, but my brother always told me that, no, it’s never too late. Just keep on working. And you’ll be fine. And a lot of coaches in my school have told me that I have the physical tools to be a really good player. So yeah. That’s where everything started. Honestly, from then on. I made my national team. And this is how I’m here. One of our coaches here, Jimmy Rhoades, he spoke to me and he brought me to GBA. Here I am in my second year here.
IDP: So you started around like 15, 16?
MI: Yeah, yeah. 15.
IDP: You mentioned your brother because you saw your brother play and all that. Any other athletes in your family?
MI: My mom and my dad, my mom was a… she did 100 meter sprint. My dad was a football player.
IDP: You said that your coach now was the one that brought you to GBA? How did that connection begin?
MI: They saw one of my games against, I think it was against Georgia. I don’t remember. But I think it was against Georgia. I played really well to them. And so they saw me, they texted me on Instagram. And then later on, I think two weeks after the tournament, they asked for us to join a zoom call. And we did. Me and my parents, and we discussed it. And we came to fly to the Czech Republic and came here.
IDP: What were the main difficulties that you had to start your life at GBA?
MI: Getting to know new people, that’s one big thing. You know, because I wouldn’t really consider myself as so open straightaway. But the more you know me, the more I’ll get comfortable around you. So at the start, for a few months, I wasn’t really comfortable. But I started to get more into it. And I can see like, the level of competition was a bit hard as well. Because I didn’t really know what to do, on the court, IQ wise, but everything else was there. Everything else was good.
IDP: And now do you feel that going to GBA helped you with your game and even in your life? And did you think it was the right decision to go there? At such a young age?
MI: I think GBA was a great decision to go to honestly and I do really encourage some kids to come here honestly. Because everything’s done so right. They bring some really talented young kids here as well and they breed them up and the players become really, really good. And it helped me mainly on the court because I always used to think the game was so fast paced, and stuff like that. But it’s not really, so it slowed down. So I’m not really in a rush to do anything crazy on the court. Like, I’ll just let everything come to me. And skill wise, I got way better. Like a skilled player, way higher IQ.
IDP: You touched on it a bit, can you tell us why kids should go to GBA and why it helps?
MI: I think kids should go to GBA because, when you come in here you’d think it’s the middle of nowhere, but it’s a really good town to just focus on basketball, there’s no distractions. No nothing, all basketball. And a lot of kids my age, or even when I was 16, 17, they would all get distracted by big cities. You know, it’s like minor distractions. And GBA is like, kind of all away from that. We’re in our own place. We’re all a big family type stuff.
IDP: So can you walk me through your typical day? What do you usually do from the start of your day to the end of it?
MI: We have practice usually around 11 [AM] or 12 [PM]. We lift in the morning, though. First, we go to the weight room, we lift until like, 9 [AM]. Then we head to the gym, which is like a 10 second walk, right? It’s right near us. And then we practice for an hour and a half. It can be two hours sometimes. Depends. Then after that, we usually have film after or film in between weight room and practice. So if you don’t have it in between, we have after. If we don’t have after, we have in between. So once that’s done I go home, shower first. And honestly, I just watch a lot of basketball. Like a lot of Kobe [Bryant], Michael [Jordan], you know, all the top tier guys. And after that time, 8 [PM] or 7 [PM], I usually read the Kobe book I have. And then, about 10 [PM] I go to sleep. Not much. It sounds a bit boring to most teens. But if you keep living your life like that, it’s like you’re in the right place.
IDP: How has been the transition for you from youth basketball to senior, professional basketball?
MI: Yeah. The transition has been really, really tough. Like, I’m not gonna lie to you. When coaches are yelling at you, you have to take it, you can’t talk back. I’m seeing really, really good players every night we play a game and scoring on them is not as easy as you do with the youths, you know? Because they’re men, they’re physically stronger in every sort of way. So you have to come in here with kind of a killer mentality. You cannot show signs of weakness. You know what I mean? Yeah, the transition was a bit hard at the start, but now I think I’m getting the hang of it. Now, I kind of feel like, I’m these guys’ ages, I just feel like one of them.
IDP: For the people that don’t know you, describe a bit about your style of play and how you think you’re best used on the basketball court.
MI: I love to score. Like, I always want the ball in my hands. I always want to claim it as well. I will say I’m a slasher, I can shoot the three, and shoot the mid-range as well, really well, in my opinion. The only kind of critiques in my game, in my opinion is my defensive anticipation, knowing when to do something, and knowing when not to do something. Because sometimes I do stuff at the wrong times. And sometimes I do them at the right times, you know what I mean? So that’s, that’s one main big part in my game that I have to fix. But apart from that, I really do say I’m a scorer, just naturally, and coming into the game late has really kind of helped my drive more for basketball. Because I really want to be great. And the journey hasn’t really been so, so long yet, you know? Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff that I still can fix in my game.
IDP: What do you think you should work the most now? What are you trying to do now?
MI: Definitely my three point shooting. That’s it. 100%. And two point shooting and my ball handling, I think everything else is there.
IDP: And what’s your favorite position to play?
MI: My favorite position, my coach plays me as point guard sometimes. And I like it now. Honestly, I used to hate it somewhat because, what a point guard sees is so much stuff. I used to think it was so complicated, but now that they told me like how to take it slow, it’s not that crazy anymore. But I do like playing as a wing. Wing is my natural position so yeah, the three or the two.
IDP: And you mentioned a lot your coaches, how is your relationship with your coaches and your teammates?
MI: I mean, my relationship with my coaches is top tier. They’re actually like my family. And my teammates too, on the court and off the court. I’m always with them off the court and I’m always with them on the court. Yeah, all of my coaches are really good people, real talk.
IDP: What’s the most difficult player you had to defend or play against?
MI: Most difficult player I played against, he’s on my team, does that count? His name is Torin Dorn, he’s a really good American guard from North Carolina, he is on this team right now and honestly, he is an NBA level pro. Guarding him is so frustrating because he is this tough guy that you wouldn’t think that works, but yeah [it does]. And his layup package, everything about it is done to perfection, it’s crazy but I feel like me guarding him every single day has really helped me on defense.
IDP: And any guys you feel like shut you down?
MI: I really haven’t met anybody in this league who can really stop me, honestly, but again, it’s the same guy, Torin. He is really a pest defensively as well. Like, he’s super strong. So he knows how to use the body right. Like walls up. And yeah, getting past him takes a lot but apart from that, I don’t think anybody else can really stay in front.
IDP: What is your ultimate goal in basketball?
MI: My ultimate goal is to be an All Star in the NBA. 100%. Like, I’ve been dreaming of that since I was young, even though I didn’t start playing since I was 15. But I’ve always wanted to play basketball. My first sport was actually football, so yeah.
IDP: And in life in general, what’s your ultimate goal?
Honestly, I just want to be successful. I want my family to be safe. I just want, a good life to live and not having to really worry about anything like that. No struggles, not anything.
IDP: What do you think you would be doing if basketball wasn’t a career option?
MI: I’m really into art and fashion. So both of those things, I think I’d be probably taking some course in college, I guess, if I wasn’t playing basketball or something. And I did those two things both before basketball. But I wouldn’t put them over basketball [now].
IDP: But that’s still an interest from you and you still try to keep that up and work on that? When basketball ends or just as a hobby?
MI: Hobby, exactly. I mean, it could be while I’m playing basketball, something to do with fashion or art while I still play, it’ll take a lot of my time, but I think I’ll be okay.
IDP: Who is your favorite player?
MI: I watch a lot of basketball so… Right now, probably Ja Morant, because I think both of our games are kind of similar. Except he’s six foot three or something like that. And I’m taller but it’s just the way he gets in the paint. The way he playmakes and yeah, just the way he moves now. Defensively I wouldn’t really say I’m like him, but i like to watch him play offense. Especially nowadays.
IDP: And who do you model your game after?
MI: My game is pretty simple. So I would say Michael [Jordan], honestly, because we kind of have the same type of body. But apart from that, he’s the person that I model my game after. Mainly.
IDP: And who has helped you the most to get to where you are right now?
MI: My coach, the head coach of our team, his name is Gilbert Abraham. He’s one of the best coaches that has ever coached me in my life. By a milestone. He’s great in everything he does. And I just want to thank him a lot for all he has done honestly.
IDP: What’s your favorite NBA team?
MI: Right now, probably the Warriors. I didn’t know they’d be this good this season with all the players they have right now. I did not know. But the way everything functions on the court, that is so beautiful. I like it a lot. Even though they don’t have Draymond right now, they’re still trying to figure out a way to still get going. So that’s why I like them, yeah.
IDP: Any favorite music style you have?
MI: I’m big into music. I recently started getting into jazz a lot, I like jazz. But of course, most listened to is rap, rap is at the top for me. And yeah, jazz starting to get a hold on me.
IDP: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? And how has that impacted your life?
MI:The best advice I’ve probably ever gotten was when my coach said “don’t listen to how I’m saying it, listen to what I’m saying”. So sometimes when I get yelled at, even by my parents or something like that, I listen to it in a different way. But they’re trying to help me. And I think I’m gonna take that advice long term in life. So that’s one of the best phrases or advice I’ve ever gotten anyway.
IDP: Can you describe yourself as a person?
MI: Funny. I think I’m really funny. Outgoing, honestly. Confident. I think those are it.
IDP: You think that translates to the basketball court? That confidence and outgoingness?
MI: Yeah. The confidence and outgoingness, 100%. Those two things, especially on the court, if I’m really feeling really good, like, it’s all confidence. I’ll talk my way through everything.
IDP: What’s something that you try to do every day?
MI: I’ve learned from watching my older friends here do, is just like having the same mindset every day. Coming into practice like it’s my last practice. So going hard all the time. Always waking up happy. Thanking God for another day.
IDP: What do you feel that’s missing in your life, if you feel that something is missing?
MI: I don’t really think anything is missing in my life. Honestly, I’m doing pretty good right now.
IDP: Three things you can’t live without?
MI: Family is number one, family is number one. Basketball is number two. And number three would probably be gaming (laughs). Yeah. Probably playing video games.
IDP: What are your favorite games?
MI: Halo. Probably Call of Duty or something like that too.
IDP: You play any NBA 2K?
MI: Yeah, I play a lot of 2K.
IDP: Who do you usually use? The Warriors?
MI: No, actually I use the Milwaukee Bucks.
IDP: Why is that?
MI: Because I like using Middleton and Jrue… Giannis, obviously I do, but I don’t really think he’s as fun to use as those two because using him in a video game has kind of broken it because he’s so good. Yeah, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. I like using those two a lot in a lot of games. Jrue defensively and Khris Middleton offensively.
IDP: What’s your dream destination?
MI: My dream destination? Probably Japan. I really want to live in Japan. I’ve always wanted to live in Japan since I was young. I’ve always been a fan of that. I don’t know why. That’s my number one place to go.
IDP: Your favorite food?
MI: Food? See, I eat a lot. So there’s so many. There’s so many stuff. I think it’s pizza. Probably. Yeah, I like that.
IDP: Do you eat well in the Czech Republic? Do you recommend the food there?
MI: Yeah, the food is honestly really good. And at some places, of course, they don’t really make it to the top, like their national food. But if you go to a good Czech restaurant, the food is actually really good.