Osun Osunniyi put together an impressive freshman season for the St. Bonaventure University men’s basketball team last year.
The 2017 Mainland Regional High School graduate is aiming for a repeat performance for the Bonnies, who opened their 2019-20 season Tuesday with a 65-53 loss to Ohio University. Osunniyi had six points, two blocks and a rebound in the loss.
“When I came in, I wanted to do whatever my team needed and more,” said Osunniyi, 21, of Pleasantville, by phone last week. “I just worked hard.”
Last season, the Bonnies finished 18-16 (12-6 Atlantic 10 Conference) and advanced to the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship game, which it lost 55-53 to St. Louis.
Osunniyi, a 6-foot-10, 215-pound center, was a big reason for much of that success.
“Last year was just fantastic to watch,” Mainland coach Dan Williams said. “I shouldn’t be surprised, but seeing anyone flourish like that in Division I is always eye-opening. I was just very proud of him.”
Last season, Osunniyi had a conference-leading 92 blocks, the most by any Division I freshman. It was also the second highest single-season total in program history. He was sixth in the nation with 2.6 blocks per game.
The sophomore was third in the conference with 7.6 rebounds per game. He finished with a team-leading six double-doubles.
Osunniyi was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie and All-Defensive teams.
“It brought me a tremendous sense of pride,” Williams said. “To work as hard and do as well as he did last year, if he continues to play like that he could have a future beyond college in basketball.”
Osunniyi averaged 7.5 points per game, scoring double-digit points in nine games. He ranked seventh in the Atlantic 10 with a .571 field-goal percentage.
But he wants those numbers to improve.
“Personally, I want to expand my game,” Osunniyi said. “My defense is ahead of my offensive (game). I want to be an offensive threat, too. I want to be an all-around player.”
Osunniyi had shoulder surgery in the offseason to repair a partially torn labrum. He wasn’t cleared for full contact until this fall, so he missed some summer workouts and training.
Williams said Osunniyi could start the season with some rust, “but he will round back into form after a few weeks, and we will see the terror and the player that he is.”
After his graduation from Mainland, Osunniyi played for Putnam Science Academy in 2017-18, leading Putnam to its first national prep championship in program history. He was named the MVP of the championship game.
Osunniyi and Putnam-teammate Kyle Lofton transferred to St. Bonaventure last year. Osunniyi is looking forward to another season with Lofton. He also added that the Bonnies have solid talent, including sophomore guard Dominick Welch.
“We are confident with the returning players and the new players,” Osunniyi said. “We all have the abilities and the talent to get it done. We just have to work hard every day at practice. We will do whatever we have to do.
“We want to get back to where we were last year and hopefully get further.”
The Bonnies will play in Philadelphia twice this season — Feb. 11 at St. Joseph’s and Feb. 29 at La Salle.
Williams said if it doesn’t interfere with the Mustangs’ schedule, he would like to take his team to one of those games.
“He is a great young man and a great representative of Mainland,” Williams said. “Not just the basketball program, but also the school. We are excited to watch him this year. Can’t wait to see where he is after this season.”