Team-first mindset fuels scoring leader

The leading scorer in Southern Nevada boys basketball isn’t an athletic specimen blessed with towering height. He hasn’t attracted a long list of Division I scholarship offers or mounds of hype on recruiting Web sites.

What Cimarron-Memorial senior guard Kevin Olekaibe does have is a team mindset to go with his 35.6-point scoring average. And he’d gladly trade his numbers for a memorable postseason run.

“Those points and stuff, they get forgotten,” Olekaibe said. “But a state title doesn’t.”

His attitude is a big reason Cimarron (13-5, 3-2) has its sights set on a top-four finish in the rugged Northwest League, which would clinch a spot in the Class 4A Sunset Region playoffs.

“He’s a better person than he is a basketball player, and he’s a great basketball player,” Spartans coach Steve Boyack said. “He’s just always smiling, always happy; it’s a pleasure to see a kid like that.”

As a sophomore, Olekaibe was the final player cut from Cimarron’s varsity team before being promoted from the junior varsity that postseason, Boyack said.

As a junior, the 6-foot-1-inch sharpshooter emerged as the Spartans’ leading scorer with 22.7 points per game.

Olekaibe has risen to another level as a senior, scoring at least 40 points four times, including two 50-point games. He averages nearly half of Cimarron’s 73.1 points per game.

“He was a good player, but this year, it’s just been a pleasant surprise,” Boyack said. “He’s carrying the team. The kids realize, though, they’ve got to step up and be part of it.

“That’s what (Olekaibe) wants. He’d trade it for his teammates’ success. He just gets his points; he’s not looking to go get them.”

Boyack said teams have thrown a variety of double teams and box-and-one defenses at Olekaibe, which has opened opportunities for teammates.

“Every game, I think every team that’s in Vegas is looking to double- and triple-team Kevin,” senior forward Ben Dorsey said. “We all have to move and get open for him so he can create and score points, and we take the pressure off him.

“When we’re not clicking, Kevin will score points and do what he usually does, but we’ll lose. So when everybody steps up and helps out Kevin, we usually win.”

Olekaibe, who also averages 6.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists, hardly minds the defensive attention.

“I think it’s better like that. It’s easier for me to get my team involved,” he said. “My team knows where to be, and I’ll find them on the court.”

Boyack said Olekaibe took his scoring prowess up a notch last summer.

“He just shot hundreds of shots a day,” Boyack said. “People look and say, ‘Gosh, where’d he come from?’ But he worked hard. He spent hours during the summer.”

Olekaibe’s work ethic has served as a model for teammates.

“After practice, he practices,” Dorsey said. “All he’ll do is practice and train. He’ll work really hard and tell us what we have to do to help the team win.”

Olekaibe is beginning to rise on the recruiting landscape. North Texas has offered a scholarship, and he’s received interest from Bradley, Brigham Young, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Indiana State, South Florida and Washington State.

But for now, he’s focused on improving on the Spartans’ sixth-place finish in league last season.

“I just want to be a winner this season; that’s about it,” he said. “This is my last season of high school basketball. I want to remember this season in a good way.”

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