Athlete of the Week: Akosa Maduegbunam

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By Thomas Scavetta
Assistant Sports Editor

Akosa Maduegbunam, a senior broadcasting major form Hyde Park, Mass., is a shooting guard for the men’s basketball team. Maduegbunam is in his third year for the Pioneers and is averaging 7 points and 4 rebounds through the first six games of the season.

Pioneers’ #0, senior Akosa Maduegbunam, about to make an offensive play. Photo: Lee Weissman
Pioneers’ #0, senior Akosa Maduegbunam, about to make an offensive play.
Photo: Lee Weissman

Q: What would you say first sparked your interest into playing basketball?

A: When I was a kid, I heard that Michael Jordan never missed a shot. Just hearing stories like that influenced me to strive to be perfect and perfect my craft, which is what I still try to do today.

Q: So, you transferred to LIU Post after playing for Penn State University for one year?

A: Yes, I went to Penn State my freshman year. I was actually recruited by Coach Pat Chambers at Boston University and he got the job at Penn State, so I was pretty much committed to the coach more than the school. Chambers was involved with my family in terms of reaching out to my mom, my siblings, and myself, which made me feel very comfortable. He was always the ideal coach I wanted to play for. When I got to college, I realized it was very complicated at that level in terms of plays and how intense the game was. I was a little overwhelmed at that time, so transferring to LIU Post was the better move for me because the game was slower and had a better pace that I could play at.

Q: Being a more experienced player who’s played in Coach Smiles’ system for two to three years, how do the younger players look up to you?

A: Playing in Coach Smiles’ system for two to three years has made me think less and play more. I’m not one of those guys who fills up the stat-sheet a whole lot, but I play hard and I make big plays that help us win games. Coach Smiles has brought the best out of me by making me prepared for that level of play if I was to get recruited all over again.

Q: What is the strongest asset of your game?

A: Shooting is definitely the strongest asset of my game and I pretty much fell in love with that. As a kid growing up, I always dreamed of making game-winning shots, so that’s something I took seriously early on. From there on, the rest of my game started falling into place.

Q: What influenced your decision to come to LIU Post?

A: I think Coach Smiles just won me over. He’s a great recruiter who’s huge into transfers and guys who are looking for second chances and getting a fresh start. Coach Smiles has an eye for talent on that and he recruited guys like myself, P.J. Torres, Jared Hall, Isaiah Stokley, and so on. I think he’s building a good foundation here and the type of guys he wants in his program.

Q: What goes through your mind when you’re on the floor late in a close game?

A: I just try to focus on my habits and making winning plays. I also try teaching plays that I’m learning in practice and all the things Coach Smiles is trying to instill in us. Guys get tired late in the game and Coach Smiles wants us to continue to close out with two hands up, play on our toes, and to communicate with our teammates. Those are the little things that I really try to focus on late in the game.

Q: Are there any areas you think the team needs to address or improve on moving forward?

A: Our biggest area of improvement is getting better every day. I think if we all get better individually and collectively, it will help us. We need to consistently bring effort, play tough, and do all the little things like crashing the defensive boards and getting back on transition defense.

Q: Do you think this team has the ability to win the East Coast Conference?

A: We have more than the ability to win the ECC because all of the pieces fit here and we really gel well together as a team. We also have experience, scoring, and other strengths. I’d like to see myself and the other guys work on playing tougher as the season goes on because toughness isn’t a skill that everyone has.

Q: What is your favorite part about playing basketball?

A: My favorite part is making a shot in someone’s face knowing that you put in all the hours and to see all the hard work pay off when you’re making shots. The game of basketball is beautiful to watch; it’s like poetry in motion, so I think seeing the look on my defender’s face after I make a shot is something I get a thrill out of.

Q: What is one thing that people may not know about you?

A: I’m really into fashion, so I think my personality is the same both on and off the court. I just try to play loud and make statements just like I do with my fashion.

Q: Do you have any plans after graduating?

A: Hopefully I can play professionally, but if not, I want to pursue my career in broadcasting. I’m excited for my future, whether it’s playing or coaching basketball or pursing my career. My biggest goal would be playing in front of the camera.

Q: Who do you most admire?

A: I most admire my mom. My father passed away when I was nine years old, so my mom has been raising me since I was nine. I just turned 23 on Sunday and I feel like my mom is a superwoman, which is no cliché. It was only a few years ago that my mom just went full-time in her job back home working for public transportation. I try to pick my toughness from my mom because she’s such a tough woman.

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