He's 6-11, a slender-but-sturdy 215 pounds, with broad shoulders, long arms and oh-so-smooth on-court demeanor.

If colleges were to design a prototype for the kind of player they covet, Hopkins senior Zeke Nnaji, the 2019 Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, would be the perfect model.

But it takes more than winning the physique lottery to be an elite-level high school-age basketball player, something Nnaji recognized at the end of his junior season. To get where he wanted to go, it was time to put in the work.

So he left the Howard Pulley AAU program and took his vast potential to rival D1 Minnesota.

"It was all about skill development," Nnaji said. "The coaches there really took that seriously. Most of the practices were about skill development. They helped me work on my weaknesses and develop as a player."

D1 Minnesota won its division in the Adidas Gauntlet national summer basketball circuit and finished third overall. The team featured big names in Minnesota high school basketball, including Matthew Hurt of Rochester John Marshall, Tyrell Terry of DeLaSalle and Tyler Wahl of Lakeville North. But the greatest buzz around the team was Nnaji's emergence as a big-time prospect.

"My whole goal last summer was to make it my best summer and draw as many eyes as I can," he said.

Playing against some of the nation's best players, Nnaji averaged 14.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, second on the team in both categories. He drew more than 40 Division I offers. In November, he narrowed his college list to Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Purdue and UCLA, eventually settling on Arizona.

"It checked more of the boxes than any of the others," Nnaji said.

Nnaji's excellent summer carried over to the high school season. He's averaging 24.1 points (topping 40 twice) and 9.4 rebounds But Nnaji is most proud of the strides he's made in other areas of his game.

He's stronger, the result of three to four days a week of weightlifting. He's become a better passer, able to counter double-teams.

"That's where I'm most improved," he said. "I haven't always been the greatest passer. I hope people notice that I've improved a lot."

He's been building up his outside shooting, he said, a skill most 6-11 players don't have.

"Growing up, my dad always talked about versatility, about stretching the floor, about playing multiple positions," he said.

Buoyed by Nnaji's successes, Hopkins is back in the state tournament for the first time since 2016. The Royals got there by defeating Wayzata, which had knocked them out of the playoffs in each of the past two years.

"That was my best moment," said Nnaji, who scored 29 points in that game. "They are so tough to play, but we were ready. That felt good."

When he's not splitting double-teams or beating opponents down the court with long, powerful strides or shooting over smaller defenders, Nnaji is likely at home studying or playing the piano.

"I can literally play just about anything, like jazz, classical. I can do modern music, it doesn't really matter," he said. "It's my escape when I need to relax. I go play piano."

His favorite piece is Mozart's Sonata in C Minor, which he first played for a recital in fourth grade. "It's just a nice song," he said.

Nnaji also writes and plays his own music. But for now, his focus is on performing to help Hopkins in its quest for a 10th state championship.

"The history of Hopkins is so great. So many great players have played for coach [Ken] Novak," Nnaji said. "To be a part of that is really humbling. Every time you play, you're representing something."