April 28, 2009
Some may explain Uche Echefu’s character as humble,
intelligent or graceful. Others may characterize him as
an explosive and powerful forward who lets nothing
stand in his way. Either way you put it, Echefu’s contribution
to the Florida State basketball team has been
all of that and more.
Uche, a senior, has already
played 98 of the last 100 games and he is currently
striving to clench the school’s record for most games
played, which is currently held by former FSU guard
Jason Rich with 129 games. Of the latter 69 games,
Uche has started 68. Unfortunately, due to an off
season injury, the record is temporarily on hold. The
2008-2009 season would have been the third consecutive
On February 11th, 1986 Uche Echefu began his
journey to one of the most prestigious Universities
in the country, Florida State. Born in Lagos, Nigeria
Uche has always been in a big town, which he explains
being very similar to New York. Growing up, Uche’s
father has always taught him as well as his younger
brother how to be responsible and hardworking, while
his mother taught his three sisters how to do things
such as cook and clean. As far as he could remember,
Uche has always had a passion for playing basketball.
Determined to become a better ball player, Uche
realized that he must work on both his defense and
offense. Day in and day out, along with his siblings,
he worked on defending the basket, passing the ball
and creating spectacular moves that allowed him to
get past his competitors.
According to Uche “this was
a tradition, it’s in the family”. He went on to say “my
dad played soccer growing up and basically every kid
in my neighborhood played soccer”. Playing soccer was
not the only thing he or any other child has done when
they were young. Uche admits he and his younger
brother marked their height in the shower periodically
to see how much they have grown.
time, he began to out grow his siblings and all the kids
in the neighborhood which resulted in them suggesting
that he play a sport such as basketball that can
benefit from his height. Taking his peers and family’s
advice, Uche became interested in basketball at the age
of 12, but did not start playing organized ball until he
was 15. With his height and just enough knowledge
of the game of basketball, Echefu was determined and
destined to become an elite player. Uche, like most Nigerian’s,
has a tight nit family and traveling to the US
would seem to present a tough obstacle.
for him overcoming the separation of his family, the
process of relocating to Maryland with a host family
was already aligned in the stars per-say.
Before becoming a Seminole however, Uche first had
to make a tough decision as to where he wanted to
attend school. ACC schools such as nationally ranked
UNC, where former All-American and Hall of Fame
inductee Michael Jordan attended and the Duke blue
devils were turned down by Echefu.
Why you asked? “I
didn’t grow up playing basketball so I wanted to go to a
school where I could learn more about the game” says
Echefu. What many people may not know is before
coming to learn the game at FSU; Uche was on the
verge of giving up. “It’s ridiculous man, it’s real hard
ya know. Initially it got to a point where I almost gave
up and wanted to go back home. But now, I’m use to it
tho”. Getting over yet another obstacle, Uche continues
on his path to the future. In doing so he has already
improved statistically since his freshman year.
throw percentage he went from .545 his freshman
season to .799 in his sophomore and junior season.
Overall he finished his junior season ranked seventh
in the ACC in free throw shooting with his career-high
.814 mark. Not only has he improved statistically, but
also physically and mentally.
He says “I am learning the
game more, spending time with the coaches, watching
film, and asking more questions, so I think I really
really understand the game now”.
Indeed he does,
especially now that he has been unable to play do to his
injury during the off season. Now, Echefu is learning
the game from the sideline perspective. He now can
see the game from each position and learn from both
team’s mistakes. Impressed, he said “I was happy to see
my teammates coach the guys while they are playing.
Like, I see more things clearly when I’m sitting down”.
Although he is benefiting from the sideline, not being
able to play in the first game has set history for his
After his collegiate career is over, Echefu plans to continue
playing basketball in hopes of making it to the
NBA. One of his favorite teams, and the team he would
not mind being a part of, is the Denver Nuggets.
huge factor for wanting to play for the Denver Nuggets
is mainly due to a high school teammate and roommate,
who currently plays for the team. In addition
Uche added “they have good chemistry. The guys are
more responsible and they are like family”.
Brittany Flowers Sports Information Student Intern