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Josh Akognon Hits His Free-Throws Sophmore Year at Casa

Photo Courtesy of SF Chronical
Akognon Withdraws His Name Form NBA Draft

By Phil Barber

Josh Akognon talked to professional players, coaches, scouts and executives. But the person who eventually swung his decision on whether to enter the NBA draft was his father, pastor Emmanuel Akognon.

“Everything he says, I’m sure to take it into account,” Josh said Tuesday. “He reads up on the ways of the game. After him, I made the decision to call some other people and get a second opinion. What I heard was that you’re not gonna be a 5-11 2-guard in the NBA.”

In other words, if Akognon has a future in the NBA, it’s likely at point guard. So the Petaluma native decided to withdraw his name from the draft before the June 16 deadline and return for his senior season at Cal State Fullerton, where coach Bob Burton agrees he will work as a combination guard.

It was certainly greeted as good news by fans of the Titans. Akognon averaged 20.2 points as a junior and led Fullerton to an NCAA tournament appearance.

The 5-11 shooter had workouts with the Kings and Warriors (that one was attended by a number of teams), plus another multi-team look in Los Angeles. At the L.A. workout, Baylor guard Aaron Bruce unintentionally cut Akognon around the eye with an elbow, and the Casa Grande High grad was limited to shooting.

But he said the workouts went well, and that he held his own against the likes of Memphis’ Chris Douglas-Roberts and New Mexico’s J.R. Giddens. The Kings wanted him back to work with Texas guard D.J. Augustin, a likely lottery pick.

“A lot of teams said I was a possible late-second-round pick,” Akognon noted. “They also made some guarantees about making their summer-league roster, but that’s not what I was after. I wasn’t willing to gamble on a maybe-could-be.”

All in all, Akognon felt the experience was well worth his trouble.

“When I went to the Warriors and saw Chris Mullin in the hallway, and he said, ‘Great job,’ and there was Mitch Richmond and Steve Kerr, I was like, ‘OK, this is the NBA,’” Akognon reflected. “I was not a joke on the draft boards. Some other teams said if I stayed in the draft, they would have brought me in for workouts. It’s hard to put that away and get down to business.”

But business calls. Akognon has a year to improve his dribbling and passing skills, and possibly to get Fullerton State into the tournament another time. He’ll work as a coach at Kobe Bryant’s basketball camp at Loyola Marymount University on July 2, and will begin practicing with the Titans again in August.