Sam I Am

An epic movie could be made from the meaning of this SHSU basketball player’s name, yet many around campus know him as just Sam. The meaning of his entire name, Chinedu Chibuike Chukunonso Samuel Onwuchekwa, is God is my guide, God is my strength, My God is near, Asked of God to listen, Let death wait.”They name us for things they are going through,” said Onwuchekwa. “My mother was told by doctors that she would not be able to have children, so she kept praying and on December 5, 1981, my brother was born. My parents named him Ebubechukwu, which means miracle of God. Now I have four other siblings, and they also have symbolic names.”The SHSU small forward played basketball for Kempner High School in the Sugar Land area of Houston and almost did not become a Bearkat. “I was supposed to go to Abeline Christian at first, but I really did not want to go to a junior college,” said Onwuchekwa. “I emailed coach Marlin early in the year and he wrote back to me a handwritten letter. Most of the time you will get a letter with a stamped signature on it. This is really what made me want to come to Sam.”With such strong roots in Nigeria, Onwuchekwa grew up playing basketball in the United States and in Africa. “Basketball is a lot more physical over there, and everybody is an athlete,” said Onwuchekwa. “There are a lot of different rules when playing basketball in Nigeria, they use the same rules as they use in soccer.” All sports are played outside of the school in Africa. “No school teams, all club teams.” This past summer, Onwuchekwa received a chance to play international basketball in Europe. “It was the most incredible experience of my life,” Onwuchekwa said. After an open gym game in Houston, one of the coaches on the international team offered him a spot on the roster. “It was all God’s way that I was in the right place at the right time,” Onwuchekwa said. The SHSU Alumni and Greater Zion Church of Huntsville were some of the sponsors that made his trip to Europe a success. “I thank the SHSU Alumni a lot.”Onwuchekwa traveled all around Europe with his team, “News Release Basketball,” playing in Frankfurt, Basil, Switzerland, Croatia, Wolmirstedt and Lorrach, Germany. “We also did camps for kids and some ministry work over there,” said Onwuchekwa. “My team finished the season with a 9-1 record.” He said, the Europeans are very fundamentally sound, and they have good shooting skills. In international play, Onwuchekwa was relied upon a lot more than he had ever been while playing at SHSU. “Playing in Europe helped my game a lot. It really raised my confidence level.” Now you may see him walking around campus with, “T.K.,” his basketball. “The ball symbolizes a refocusing transition,” said Onwuchekwa. “I’m looking to come back and do better things. My head is on right and I am here to play ball.”Last season the SHSU basketball team made history by winning the Southland Conference Tournament and being invited to the NCAA Tournament. “I lived a dream by playing Division 1 basketball and by winning the tournament.” Onwuchekwa said, “It was a blessing to be apart of history and I thank the coaches for the opportunity.” The SHSU athlete has big plans for the upcoming basketball season. “I think we have a good chance at going back to the big dance this season. We have some good new players on the team, who came in ready to work hard and play,” said Onwuchekwa. “Coach Marlin is going to find away to win, no matter what.” Life after SHSU still involves sports in the eyes of Onwuchekwa. Currently he majors in kinesiology with a minor in business. Last semester he received a 4.0 grade point average and was listed on the dean’s list. After college he plans on becoming a sports marketer. “I plan on being around sports my whole life,” Onwuchekwa said.

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