After a year of waiting in the wings, sophomore Nana Akenten (pronounced Na-nuh uh-ken-ten) has an opportunity to make a significant contribution this season. Akenten, a 6-foot-6, 218-pound guard, backed up seniors Anton Gill and Evan Taylor on the wing, and is one of the front runners to see time at the position this winter. Although he played in just seven games, going against Taylor, Gill and James Palmer Jr. in practice every day helped Akenten make strides in his game. A former top-150 recruit out of high school, he has the shooting ability and athleticism to make an impact, and his playing time will be determined on finding the consistency needed to flourish at the Big Ten level.
Akenten provided depth on the wing as a freshman. He played in seven games, totaling seven points and two rebounds in 21 minutes of work. He connected on 3-pointers against both Marist (Nov. 24) and Delaware State (Dec. 22) and split a pair of free throws against No. 23 Michigan on Jan. 18. He played a season-high six minutes in a loss at No. 3 Michigan State on Dec. 3. He grabbed rebounds at St. John’s on Nov. 16, and in the win over Marist.
Akenten was a three-year performer for Coach Rob Brost at Bolingbrook High School, helping the school to a pair of third-place Class 4A finishes during his career. Akenten emerged as one of the nation's biggest risers in the class of 2017, finishing as a four-star recruit by Scout and 247Sports after a strong senior campaign. He was also among the top-150 players nationally in the final rankings by both Rivals and 247Sports.
As a senior, Akenten earned first-team Class 4A All-State honors by the Associated Press and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and was a second-team all-state performer among all classes by both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times. He placed seventh in the Mr. Basketball voting in the state of Illinois and was the Player of the Year by the Joliet Herald News in 2017.
Akenten averaged 14.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in helping Bolingbrook to a 30-2 record and third-place finish in Illinois’ largest class in 2017. He shot 49 percent from the field, including 46 percent from 3-point range as Bolingbrook was nationally ranked for most of the season. He was the MVP of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic after posting a 23-point, 13-rebound effort and had a season-high 31 points against Belleville East.
As a junior, he helped BHS to the Class 4A regional championship game as the team replaced four starters as he averaged 14.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game. For his efforts, he was a special-mention Class 3A/4A all-state selection, a first-team all-area selection and a first-team All-Southwest Suburban Conference Blue Division honoree. As a sophomore, he played an instrumental role in helping Bolingbrook to a 25-9 record and a third-place finish at the Class 4A State Tournament. He also played with the Illinois Celtics/Hoopers AAU program under Coach Quintin Garrison.
In addition to his efforts on the basketball court, Akenten also ran track, qualifying for the state meet as part of the 400-meter relay in each of his final two seasons. Akenten selected Nebraska over a number of schools, including UNLV, SMU and Colorado State.
Nana is the son of Margaret Oduko and Maxwell Akenten and was born on September 17, 1998, in Gary, Indiana. His full name is Nana Yaw Waife Akenten. Akenten has not declared a major at Nebraska.