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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A class apart – season of success for English schoolkids

first_img1 Oct 2019 A class apart – season of success for English schoolkids The curtain has come down on the English Schools’ Golf Association season and the campaign – supported by England Golf – has been hailed a roaring success.With strong backing from England Golf, the ESGA successfully competed in international matches against Scotland and Wales as well as hosting individual Under 16 and Under 19 championships and a team event.A small army of volunteers at county level has enabled young golfers from all across the country to represent their schools at regional and national levels and enjoy the thrill of competition.The numbers of players and the skills on show at all the championships left an indelible impression on anyone fortunate enough to witness the matches and Steve Akrill, secretary of the ESGA, has been impressed with the levels of ability coming through the ranks.“It’s been a great season for both the boys and the girls and the events at regional and national level have shown we have a lot of strength in depth,” admitted Akrill.“In particular we had a lot of younger players emerging and more than holding their own against older players in their age bracket. That’s always great to see.”The season kicked off in July with the 42nd English Schools’ Championship which was held at Sherwood Forest GC in Nottinghamshire.The emergence of younger talent was never more evident than at this event as two 14-year-old competitors scooped the top prizes.Louise Burke from Lytchett Minster School in Dorset emerged triumphant in the girls’ event and Yorkshire’s Josh Berry was the boys’ champ.An additional bonus for the duo, pictured above, was the chance to captain English Schools in the international matches which followed later in the summer.Berry, from Campsmount Academy in Doncaster, has since gone on to represent England in Under 16 Home Internationals and is part of the England Golf Boys’ squad for the 2020 season.The English Schools’ team event was staged at the National Golf Centre HQ at Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire with 34 teams from 26 counties taking part.Dyke House Academy from Hartlepool took the trophy back to Durham with their three-man team of Jack Burton, Louis Westmoreland and William Skipp enjoying a three-point victory in the Stableford competition.The under 16’s championship was staged in West Yorkshire at Cleckheaton and District GC.A total of 65 girls and boys took part with Rachel Gourley and Finn Nelson, pictured below, claiming the honours.Rachel’s form has earned her a call-up to the England Golf set up and she will be part of the girls’ team – along with Louise Burke – for a challenge match against Ireland at Hunstanton GC on October 12-13.The two games against Scotland and Wales always brings an edge to proceedings with national pride at stake!The match against Wales was played at Luffenham Heath GC in August and saw England win 11.5 – 6.5.After travelling north to face Scotland on the links at Irvine GC, the match proved to be a real nail-biter.England’s form was excellent and it looked as if they were well on their way to victory before the Scots fought back to win the final three points available and secure a 9-9 draw.Akrill added: “Scotland had five players who were in their national set-up for Home Internationals.“But the team spirit for that match really shone through with the girls finishing their games and heading straight back out onto the course to lend their support to the boys.“When the girls faced Wales they were definitely underdogs. Our average handicap was three compared to Wales’ one, but the girls performed superbly with three wins in the singles helping the combined team to get over the line.“It’s been a really positive year with lots of good golf being played and the enthusiasm of the youngsters shining through.”Three venues for next year’s events have already been decided with the national championship taking place at Gog Magog GC in Cambridgeshire, the under 16 event going to Northamptonshire County GC and the away game against Wales set for the Rolls of Monmouth GC. Tags: English Schools’last_img read more

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