Friar Basketball

One on One With Paschal Chukwu

chukwuinterview

August 29th, 2013 — Just minutes before 5:30 PM

Paschal Chukwu @raphaelpchill – ‘After much thought I’ve decided to pursue my dream as a Friar and play under coach big Ed Cooley #GoFriars’

Paschal Chukwu’s verbal commitment to Providence College answered the prayers of many, that the Friars could land a game changing ‘big man’ in the ultra-competitive recruiting world.  Dating back to 2001, during the days of  7-2 Karim Shabazz, PC teams have been equipped with guys like Ray Hall, Marcus Douthit, and Randall Hanke to start at the center position. With no disrespect to Hall, Douthit and Hanke, as each played really well at times during their careers, the most common question one could hear in Friar Town was “When are we going to get an elite big man?”

While interviewing Chukwu this evening, it was very clear that he is excited to end the ‘Center Drought’ that PC has endured over the past ten years.

Growing up in Africa, Pascal Chukwu was a soccer player. Expressing his pleasant personality in laughter, he shared, “I played soccer until I was 14, I must have been the tallest player.” It took a friend of Chukwu’s, as well as a subsequent group of peers to talk him into trying the game of basketball.

“I had a friend who played basketball, and he was trying to recruit a team for our school, because we didn’t really have basketball team…He talked to me, asked me to come play and I said ‘nah’, but then literally four other people talked me into it. So I played my first time, blocked a couple of shots, and he told me, ‘That’s really good!’ He also told me if I work hard, I have the potential to be good at it. He introduced me to the coach and I played a couple of times and I really enjoyed the game, so I decided to keep playing.”

Following his decision to give the sport a try, Chukwu moved to the United States. When asked what motivated his relocation to the US, he remarked, “Definitely for an education and basketball.” He went on to say that he wanted to make use of his height and dedicate himself to the game.

In a CT Post article by Kevin Paxton, Dan Donnelly, Chukwu’s AAU Coach, was quoted in saying that Chukwu had his ‘coming out party’ last July, and this is when the flood of Division I coaches began contacting the 7 ft 2 in Nigeria native. As told in a Craig Leighton, Nov. 2012 article, Paschal had been quoted in saying that earlier on that summer, he had yet to receive an offer from any Division I college.

After making stops at several schools, Chukwu found his way to Fairfield Prep as an incoming Junior in 2012. During his first season at Fairfield Prep, he averaged 13 points and 14 rebounds a game. Building on the foundation that he laid in the summer prior, Chukwu quickly gained the attention of schools like UConn, Providence and St. Joe’s. Providence had been recruiting him the hardest, ultimately receiving his commitment on August 30th.

“I was down to PC and St. Joe’s. It came down to the relationship that I have with the coach. I’ve known Coach Cooley and Coach Simon for like two years now, so that means a lot to me. We talked many times, and PC really is a cool school.”

Chukwu went on to add that he feels as though he can really fit in right away and he is excited about that opportunity. He will join a Friar roster left with several graduation wounds, as Bryce Cotton, Kadeem Batts, Lee Goldsbrough and Ted Bancroft will all enter the workforce in the spring of 2014.

Widely known as one of the hardest working recruiters in the country, Ed Cooley has worked tirelessly to prevent anything but an excellent encore to the historical recruiting class he brought in the year prior. Wrapping up commitments from Ricky Ledo, Kris Dunn and Joshua Fortune, Providence was welcomed by the first nationally acclaimed recruiting class in recent school history. After Kris Dunn’s debut was halted by a shoulder injury and an NCAA ruling held Ricky Ledo off the court, PC fans were left waiting for better things to come.

On July 15h, Cooley and staff secured the first piece in next year’s class, when Jalen Lindsey, of Tennessee, verbally committed to PC. Chukwu, representing the second major piece, gives the Friars a top 5 rated center, according to ESPN.

On September 7th, Friar targets, Abdul Malik Abu and Jared Terrell will make their college announcement. After receiving a congratulatory Tweet, from Abu, Chukwu tweeted back “Thx bro it’s your turn now.” I asked him if he has been in contact with either of the two remaining targets, and he said that he has talked to them a few times.

The Friar Faithful can only hope if Chukwu’s decision can help lure Abu and Terrell to PC, but for now, Friar fans will continue to relish the commitment of Paschal Chukwu.

Email Craig Belhumeur at craig.belhumeur@friarbasketball.com

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