HPCA’s Ogbodo signs with Seahawks

Nov. 16, 2012 @ 06:58 PM

Three years ago, Chukwuma Ogbodo would’ve never dreamed he’d be on the verge of playing college basketball. Now, three years and countless hours in the gym later, it’s a reality for the standout basketball player from High Point Christian.

On Wednesday, Ogbodo, who moved to the United States from Nigeria early in his high school career, signed his National Letter of Intent with NCAA Division-I UNC Wilmington to continue his academic and basketball career at the next level.

“I feel great,” says Ogbodo, the son of Victor and Helen Ogbodo. “It’s been quite a hectic journey. ... It came down to what matters most, which was that the coaches were the same on the court and off. What I got from UNCW was that they were genuine. The other schools were genuine too. But UNCW showed me that love.”

Ogbodo, “Chuck” as he’s come to be known, came to High Point Christian before his sophomore year. He was a soccer player who had limited basketball experience. But standing 6 feet, 10 inches tall at a school with a strong basketball program, he quickly found his way to the court.

“I was a soccer player. I played soccer all my life,” says Ogbodo, who lives with his host family, the Sues. “When I was playing soccer, though, I had a lot of injuries, like shin splints and ankle injuries, and I didn’t want to continue with that because it was hurting.

“With basketball, the way I see it is that the big guys don’t always run. So when I started playing, I was always running, because I played soccer. So, I was running the floor and making a lot of points.

“At first, I said I was going to try. And from trying I just loved it and picked it up. From there, it’s been fun. If I’d known that, I would’ve played back home,” he says with a big smile and a laugh.

By putting in the time and the hard work, both in learning to play the game at a high level and in putting in the effort in the weight room, he has grown into a player that Division-I coaches like UNCW head coach Buzz Peterson want in their programs.

“Right off the plane, he was 6-10, 175 and now he’s 6-10, 230,” Cougars coach Brandon Clifford says. “So, I’ve seen Chuck grow up. When he got here, he’d only been playing a year. He was a young kid. He was a blank canvas for a coach. But what he did have was the instincts to defend.

“For high school kids, he’s probably the best I’ve been around, as far as knowing how to guard the post — and that’s not something that really stands out, because a lot of teams don’t throw it inside. But at the next level, if you can defend the post, you can play. So, that’s where he has a bright future. And his offensive play has come a long way and will continue to get better.”

With a positive summer with a new AAU team, which emphasized team play instead of individual exposure, Ogbodo had a reinvigorated passion for the game. After he performed well against several top schools during scrimmages in Wilmington, the coaches at UNCW really started to recruit him.

They liked the way he played, which is very much centered on defense, in large part because of his rebounding and blocking ability, and offered him a scholarship. Although he also considered schools like Western Carolina, he decided on the Seahawks, of the Colonial Athletic Association.

“When I went to UNC Wilmington, I felt this joy that I can play here. That this is a place where I can perform,” say Ogbodo, who wants to enter the medical field after school. “Each time I talk with the coaches, they don’t talk with me only about basketball.

“They want to know about my family, how I’m doing, how everything’s going. That’s the thing I was looking for in a coach — not a coach who is only basketball, basketball, basketball. They’ve got to come into your life and know what’s happening in your life. And that’s what UNCW did.”