Nike: Uche Echefu Spotlight

INDIANAPOLIS -- Uchechukwu ("Uche") Echefu has only played basketball for four years, but he already is a prime target for several colleges.

Echefu, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, originally played soccer growing up but when he outgrew the sport, he turned to basketball in 2000. He later moved to the United States to attend Montrose Christian in Rockville, Md., in 2002.

The hard work is paying off for Echefu, who is a promising power forward prospect with the ability to block shots, run the floor and is even starting to face up to the basket and pop some jump shots.

"I just try to play hard and do my best," said Echefu, who is 6-foot-7 and 204 pounds. "I'm enjoying getting recruited but I'm going to take my time. I just want to get ready for my senior year because it is going to be a big year for me. I'll need to be the leader this year."

Echefu still is raw on offense, but it's easy to see why the likes of Florida, Texas, North Carolina and many others are showing interest. He grew up watching Virginia and Virginia Tech.

"Right now, I'm playing inside but I'm starting to move outside too," Echefu said. "I know I can perform both inside and out. If my man is bigger than me, I can take him outside, and if he is smaller, I can post him up.

"I'm trying to improve my outside game and be able to put the ball on the floor, plus improve my jump shot."

Even in Nigeria, Echefu heard about the Tar Heels.

"North Carolina is a really big school and there is a lot of talent from that school and the education there is really good," Echefu said. "They have one of the best coaches (Roy Williams) in the history of basketball.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to have the chance to play college basketball. I just want to show people I can play the game."

The adjustment to college next year should be a smooth one after moving to the U.S.

"When I arrived here, I knew a little bit of English," Echefu said. "Distance (from Maryland) won't matter when it comes to colleges. I like studying history and math and biology. When I first came to the U.S. it was hard and I missed home. Now, I think I have adjusted pretty good."

Echefu has visited Hawaii, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Houston over the last few years.

"America is really different from Nigeria," Echefu said. "I have to be able to pick things up. Basketball has helped with my adjustment. I've been able to meet new people through basketball."

Echefu said the Nike Camp is his last event for the summer.

"This will probably be my last camp and then I'll go back to high school and start working out and think about next season."


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