After pledging Ohio State return, Felix Okpara changes course, enters transfer portal

Three weeks after publicly announcing his return to Ohio State, Felix Okpara has entered the transfer portal.

A 6-11, 235-pound center, Okpara averaged 5.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks while appearing in 70 games including 45 starts during the last two seasons. As a sophomore, he increased his averages to 6.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while cementing himself as Ohio State’s starter. On April 1, he announced in a social media post that he was “excited and grateful to announce I am 100% committed to running it back with OSU and Buckeye Nation!"

On April 15, former Kentucky center Aaron Bradshaw announced his commitment to the Buckeyes after one season with the Wildcats. Less than one week later, Okpara has opted to continue his collegiate career elsewhere. A native of Nigeria who spoke with The Dispatch about the difficult journey to the United States, Okpara has two years of eligibility remaining.

"Thank you Buckeye Nation for two amazing years," he wrote in a post to Instagram. "Thank you for embracing me and supporting me through the ups and downs. ... I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have represented the Scarlet and Gray. As I thought of the player I want to become and the program moving forward in a new direction, I believe it is in my best interest to continue my pursuit of my dream at a different school.

"I wish Ohio State and especially Coach Diebs the best!"

Bradshaw, a 7-1, 226-pound center, was the No. 5 player in the 2023 class according to 247Sports, a five-star prospect and the first McDonald’s All-American to commit to Ohio State since D’Angelo Russell in 2014. His addition meant the Buckeyes were going to likely play the two bigs together at times while also having them battle each other for minutes at center. Slowed by a foot injury suffered last summer, Bradshaw averaged 4.9 points and 3.3 rebounds while appearing in 26 games. He averaged 13.7 minutes per game, made 10 starts and shot 28.6% from 3-point range.

Like the rest of the roster, Okpara remained with the program as the Buckeyes advanced through the NIT even though the transfer portal was open. In the process, the sophomore played his most statistically impactful basketball during Ohio State’s three games in the tournament. He scored in double figures in consecutive games for the first time in his career, doing so in all three games while averaging 13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks for the Buckeyes.

His 82 blocks last season are the ninth-most in Ohio State history, and his 126 career blocks are two shy of tying Keita Bates-Diop for 10th-most in an Ohio State career.

Ohio State Buckeyes: Join the Ohio State Sports Insider text group with Bill Rabinowitz, Joey Kaufman Adam Jardy

A four-star prospect after his senior season at Branson (Missouri) Link Academy, Okpara arrived at Ohio State as the No. 74 national recruit and the No. 15 center in the 2022 class according to He was part of a five-man recruiting class comprised of fellow four-star prospects Roddy Gayle Jr., Brice Sensabaugh and Bruce Thornton and Ohioan Bowen Hardman. Two years later, just Thornton remains with the Buckeyes.

Sensabaugh led Ohio State in scoring as a freshman and was taken by Utah in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. This offseason, Gayle, Hardman and now Okpara have all transferred out of the program as Diebler has shaped the roster during his first offseason. Okpara is also the second big man to transfer from Ohio State this offseason after Zed Key committed to Dayton.

The Buckeyes now have two roster spots available and are targeting another center as well as a forward to round out the roster. Alabama’s Sam Walters, Oakland’s Trey Townsend and Central Arkansas’ Tucker Anderson are all primary candidates for the latter spot. San Diego State transfer guard Micah Parrish, who committed to the Buckeyes on Saturday, played his first two years with Townsend and urged him to reunite with the forward at Ohio State.


Get more Ohio State basketball news by listening to our podcasts

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State's Felix Okpara changes course, enters transfer portal