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

Read More »

Oxford sweeps West Elk, improves to 9-4 and 7-3 in league.

first_imgSumner Newscow report — The Oxford Wildcat baseball team improved its record to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the Walter Johnson (SCBL) League with a double-header sweep over West Elk at home Tuesday. The Wildcats defeated West Elk 4-3, 4-3. Game 1: Oxford 4 West Elk 3Oxford –       0-0-2-0-2-0-X   4West Elk –    3-0-0-0-0-0-0   3Starter for Oxford: Grant Smith, 4 IP, 9 K’s, 1 BB, 3 runs, 1 ER, 3 hits. Winning pitcher for OHS: Cal Shimkus 3 IP, 1 K, 3 BB, 0 hits, 0 runs.Oxford Offense:Grant Smith 2-3, 2 singles, 1 RBI.Dylan Reuter 2-3, 1 single, 1 double, RBI.Dakota Mitchell 1-3, 1 double, 2 runs, 1 stolen base. Comments by Oxford head coach Kyle Green:Game 2: Oxford 4 West Elk 3Oxford-   0-0-2-1-0-0-1   4West Elk –   1-0-1-1-0-0-0   3Winning pitcher for Oxford: Camren Clements 7 IP, CG, 3 runs, 2 ER, 9 K’s, 2 BB, 7 hits.Oxford OffenseCal Shimkus  2-3, 2 SinglesCamren Clements 1-3, Single, RBIGrant Smith 1-3, Triple, BB, 1 SBBlake Thurmond 1-3, SB, BB, Game winning Single and RBI in the bottom of 7th. Game #1: Oxford head baseball coach Kyle Green comments:We got another solid start from junior Grant Smith. He did a great job through 4 innings for us. Really got going in the third and the fourth. Because of our long week of games, three double headers, he was on a pitch count tonight. I loved his competitiveness as always tonight. Sophomore Cal Shimkus came in and threw 3 solid innings for us to pick up the win after we took the lead in the 5th. He hadn’t thrown in a while, but he needed the work, and he did a great job as well. He battled out of some tough spots late in the game to get the win. Our offense struggled in this game, yet as these boys always seem to do, they found a way to get it done. Game #2 Green comments: Sophomore Camren Clements took the bump in this game. He went the distance, throwing 7 innings and doing a great job. The plan coming in was to have him on a pitch count as well, but we needed a sweep in this double header to give us a shot to host league tournament here. Our offense again struggled in this game, but the boys found a way. Dakota Mitchell got on in the 7th and with his dirtbag mentality, moved up to 2nd on a throwing error.  He then moved up to 3rd. With 2 outs, Junior Blake Thurmond singled to right center for a walk off win. Overall Double-header comments:Coming into this week, we knew we needed 2 wins tonight to challenge a very good Flinthills game on thursday for a shot to host the first round of league tourney at Oxford. West Elk had struggled early in the year, but they are very well coached, and they do the little things very very well. Very typical of them, they always get the best out of their kids. We had Grant and Cam on pitch counts going in, but as they sometimes say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. With Grant in game 1, we were able to stick to it and bring Cal in behind him. With Cam, he was throwing so well, and we were tied most of the game, I felt like he was throwing so well, we would ride him out. He may not start vs. FH on thursday in two big games, but I know with Grant and Cal, we have two guys who will give us a chance. It’s a nice luxury to have those 3, they are solid. Our offense struggled at times last night. We squared up a lot of baseballs, but it seemed like we hit it right at kids or kids made great plays. That’s baseball on some nights. We just kept grinding a long and found a way to win. That’s the best part about this bunch, they don’t panic in tight games. They just look for ways to win and don’t quit. Right now we are 9-4 overall, 7-3 in league. If we want to host WJL first round, we will have to sweep a very good and very well coached Flinthills team here Thursday. Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more

Read More »