UCLA signs junior college center Ikenna Okwarabizie

Junior-college transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie, a center, becomes the fourth member of UCLA's recruiting class.

Less than two weeks ago, the UCLA men’s basketball team lost a raw but athletic big man when Wanaah Bail decided to transfer. Now, the Bruins have picked up another. Junior college transfer Ikenna Okwarabizie has signed a national letter of intent with UCLA, the team announced Monday.

Okwarabizie visited the school over the weekend and tweeted that he would become a Bruin.

In a release, UCLA listed Okwarabizie as a center, at 6 feet 9 and 250 pounds.

Until last week, UCLA had been recruiting five-star center Stephen Zimmerman, but Zimmerman announced he was headed to Nevada Las Vegas.

“Ike brings great size, strength and physicality to the table and will certainly help our play in the post,” Coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “He comes from a very good program at Tyler Junior College and has been coached well. We needed to add depth to our interior, and we know that Ike will help us fill that need.”

UCLA has plenty of frontcourt depth. Senior Tony Parker is the lone returning starter, but reserve center Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman, who played more sparingly, also return. And Jonah Bolden, who was ineligible during his first season, will be available.

Okwarabizie is the fourth player in the incoming class, joining guards Prince Ali and Aaron Hiliday, and forward Alex Olesinski.

Okwarabizie, who was born in Nigeria, has played for three seasons in the United States. He played in high school in Missouri and Iowa before one season at Tyler Junior College.

He played soccer exclusively until 2010, when he began playing basketball.

Okwarabizie will enter UCLA as a sophomore and will have three seasons of eligibility.

Twitter: @zhelfand

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