Kene Chukwuka’s path from Sweden brought him to Pittsburgh

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 15, 2018 at 7:13 pm Contact Kaci: klwasile@syr.edu In high school, Kene Chukwuka spent about three hours a day on YouTube. He’d get home from school and watch until it was time for basketball practice.Some days, it was Kobe Bryant highlights. Other times, it was documentaries on Michael Jordan or Dennis Rodman. During the NBA season, he would watch highlights from the previous night’s games as the time difference made it difficult for him to watch them live.Chukwuka grew up in Sweden, a country not known for its basketball prowess. Sweden has produced three NBA players since the 1946-47 season including current Utah Jazz forward Jonas Jerebko. Now, Chukwuka is one of 12 Swedish players currently in Division I, featuring as a reserve center for Pittsburgh (8-10, 0-5 Atlantic Coast). Chukwuka will find himself in the Carrier Dome when the Panthers take on Syracuse (12-6, 1-4) on Tuesday night.“In Sweden, sports isn’t that big, I mean it was always school that was the main focus,” Chukwuka said. “But basketball … I just started putting work into it and stuff and it really started to turn into a way of life.”Chukwuka first got into basketball when he moved from Stockholm to the south of Sweden. The friends he made there were into the sport so he decided to try it out. Chukwuka played for a club team, since no high schools had a team.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor the 2015-16 season, he played for BG Fryshuset Stockholm where he averaged nearly 10 points and two blocks a game. Prior to that, he played for the Trelleborg Pirates, averaging 30 points a game by his final season.When it was time for him to choose a college, Chukwuka decided he wanted to play basketball in the United States. Asking a friend of his, who was at the time committed to Montana State, for help, and got in contact with one of the MSU coaches late in the summer.“In America, everybody’s trying to reach the top in whatever they do,” Chukwuka said. “I like the whole you chase your dream thing.”In the summer of 2016, too late for Chukwuka to receive a scholarship offer, he was put in contact with junior college coaches, including Brian Lohrey of New Mexico Junior College where Chukwuka later committed.In the first non-exhibition game of the season against Trinidad State Junior College, Chukwuka was under the basket when a shot missed. He bent his knees, preparing to jump to gather the rebound. But as he did, another player ran into him, injuring his right hip.Against Trinidad State, Chukwuka was on the floor for 21 minutes. The rest of the season, following his injury, he averaged fewer than 10 minutes per game. He ended the season with 95 rebounds and 79 points.“I had a tough season over there,” Chukwuka said. “I didn’t put up the stats to really back up who I was as a player.”Used to the slower nature of Swedish hoops, he had to get used to the faster pace of the game as well as the sheer size of the players in the U.S. In Sweden, his 6-foot, 9-inch frame was advantageous, unlike in America where he regularly plays with and against guys that are the same size or taller.Despite his injury and adapting to a different style of play, Chukwuka was invited to a JUCO top 100 showcase in Wichita, Kansas, the summer after his 2016-17 season. In his first game, he put up 16 points and the NCAA offers started rolling in. When Pittsburgh called, he liked the coach and the team camaraderie. On Aug. 8, 2017, Chukwuka committed, completing Pitt’s 2017 recruiting class.“(Chukwuka) always tries hard, he always plays hard,” Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings said after the Panthers played Duke on Jan. 10, “but sometimes he just gets going too fast in his mind and it’s a process for him, slowing the game down.”This season, the center is second on the team in blocks (nine) and has 43 rebounds (12 offensive boards and 31 defensive rebounds). In the span of about one minute at the end of the first half against Duke, Chukwuka retrieved four offensive rebounds. He started the second half and made his only shot in the half from behind the arc to add to his three-point basket from the first half. He finished the game 3-3 from the field for eight points.“I’ve seen him do it in practice, get five offensive rebounds in a row and keep going,” Pitt guard/forward Jared Wilson-Frame said after the loss to Duke. “He’ll be wheezing next to me and I’ll be like ‘Kene, you good?’ and he’ll be like ‘yeah, let’s go.’ That’s just who he is and we really appreciate that.” Commentslast_img read more

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Men’s volleyball sweeps through top competition

first_imgAfter defeating Stanford and BYU, USC has won four straight matches and eight of its last nine. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) The No. 9 USC men’s volleyball team earned victories in its matches against No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 BYU this weekend. The Trojans improved to an overall record of 15-8, and their conference record rose to 6-4. USC remains undefeated in Galen Center with 10 wins on the season and has won four matches in a row. Additionally, the Trojans’ 15 regular season wins mark the most of any team under head coach Jeff Nygaard. Wyett and Grasso once again led the Trojans with 11 kills apiece, while Moss added nine kills. Sophomore middle blocker Sam Lewis was instrumental in the Trojans’ defense, tallying a personal season record of seven blocks, while Wyett added another four. Hall earned 31 assists and seven digs, while Douglas chipped in eight digs of his own. “When we [went] up big and they were creeping back in we [reminded] ourselves not to be too hungry to get to that 25 and [to] just take it a point at a time,” Moss said. “I think we did a nice job of resetting and getting there tonight.” After a series of impressive victories at Galen Center, USC will look to continue its winning trend in the final two matches of the regular season against Pepperdine Thursday and UCLA Saturday. In Saturday’s match against BYU, the Trojans ran up a sizable lead on the Cougars in the first two sets. BYU surged back with determination in both frames, yet it was unable to overcome the vast point differentials. USC captured the two sets 25-20 and 25-22, respectively. In the fifth and final set, however, USC swung the momentum back in its favor. The Trojans were able to take the first 2 points and never looked back, winning 15-10. Wyett and fellow senior outside hitter Gianluca Grasso led the way with 18 kills each, while Moss added 15 kills of his own. Sophomore middle blocker Kyle Gear tallied four blocks, while Moss and Grasso contributed five and three blocks, respectively. Sophomore setter Chris Hall aided the Trojan cause with 47 assists, and senior libero Matt Douglas collected 11 digs. After the match, senior outside hitter Ryan Moss said the team was able to regain its composure before the final set. Moss said the team had to adjust its mindset in order to take command at the end of a volatile third set. But the Cardinal were eager to run up an early lead on USC again in the second set, snagging the first 3 points. The Trojans answered back by winning the next 3 points and eventually took a 16-12 lead later in the set. Stanford was unable to overcome the deficit and USC took the second set 25-20. “We just tried to keep our minds steady and focused… and we made a couple [of] plays when it mattered,” he said. The third and fourth sets followed a similar pattern, as neither team was able to pull ahead of the other for the majority of the frames. However, Stanford had well-timed runs, ultimately capturing the sets 25-21 and 25-22, respectively. “I think we played steady the whole match … Just when it got tight in those third and fourth sets, we didn’t come through … but we had faith in the type of volleyball we were playing,” Moss said. According to Moss, the Trojans were successful in withstanding BYU’s surges in the first two sets. The Cardinal took a sizable 11-5 lead in the first set Friday, but USC was able to breach the gap, tying Stanford at 15 points apiece. After some back-and-forth action, consecutive kills from senior outside hitter Jack Wyett were enough to secure the first set for the Trojans 25-23. But the third set of the match was a different story. The Cougars jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, but the Trojans fought back to bring themselves up 7-5. This back-and-forth trend continued throughout most of the set, with neither team able to pull ahead by more than 2 points. With the score tied at 19, the Trojans finally put an end to that by going on a 6-2 run, winning the set with a score of 25-21 and securing a three-set sweep.last_img read more

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Pogba Only Non Man City or Liverpool Player in PFA Team…

first_imgPogba in PFA Team of the Year But there is no room for Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah or Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who have both scored 19 league goals this season.Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, with 17 and 16 Premier League goals respectively, also miss out.The PFA Team of the Year was voted for by members of the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union.It is the second successive year where Manchester City have provided the most players from one team as they had five of the 11 in the 2017-18 side.However, only Sergio Aguero retains his place from the team of 12 months ago.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was Thursday named in the PFA Team of the Year 2018-19 – the only player not from either Manchester City or Liverpool.City have six of the 11, voted for by fellow players – goalkeeper Ederson, centre-half Aymeric Laporte, midfielders Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho and forwards Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling.The remaining four are all Liverpool players – full-backs Andrew Robertson and Trent-Alexander Arnold, centre-half Virgil van Dijk and forward Sadio Mane.last_img read more

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