Being offered a full ride scholarship from a college basketball coach at the Division I level is a moment that means a lot to many young student-athletes.
For St. Mary Prep (MI) forward Peter Nwoke, that moment means so much more.
Nwoke moved to the United States three years ago in 2017 to write his own story that started in Lagos, Nigeria.
“The first day I ever played basketball, I dunked it,” he said. “My friend who introduced me to it dared me, and from that day onward I fell in love with it.”
Basketball became Nwoke’s first love. After being introduced to the sport, he started playing for a team in Lagos against some very good competition. He practiced for hours every day, spent time working on his body, and took a leap of faith towards a career in something that started as a dare.
“I got an academic scholarship to come to the US and I decided to play basketball because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I took the opportunity,” he said. “It was kind of tough leaving my mom and sister behind but I wanted to chase my dreams in the world of basketball in the US and now I’m here making my family proud.”
The transformation of Nwoke, as a Division I talent, has been a storyline college coaches have followed. He’s no longer an unpolished 6-foot-8 forward with extreme athleticism. He’s developed into a great rebounder, with good defensive instincts to go along with his incredible motor, work ethic and improving offensive game.
“Coaches like what I bring to the table,” he said. “Getting rebounds, points, and running the floor. And the fact that I’m a coach-able player who listens.”
Iowa, Dayton, Oakland, Harvard, Princeton, Lafayette, Central Michigan and Mississippi Valley State are involved. With still a year left to play high school basketball, Nwoke contends that he will be fair in the process and allow more coaches to recruit him down the stretch by keeping his options open.
“My recruitment is still open and I’m not cutting any schools off for now,” he said. “I’m just following the process and trusting it. I’m open to any school recruiting me regardless until I’m ready to make my decision.”
Nwoke hears from new programs almost every week and UNC-Wilmington was recently one of them. One of their assistants reached out to let Nwoke know that they’ll be following his progression moving forward.
“Coach Travis Hackert from UNC-Wilmington called me this afternoon to introduce himself,” he said. “He talked to me about the school and the culture over there, and what it’s like to be a part of the family out there.”
“He asked about my family and background and we just got along perfectly well and hopefully I hear from them again soon enough.”
In less than three years playing organized basketball, Nwoke has become a player worthy of Division I attention. He hasn’t truly scratched the surface yet of what he could potentially be at the next level. He’s working hard every day to improve his game because he’s doing it for more than just himself.
“I’m working hard so I’ll be able to give my mom the world,” he said. “I also want to give back to where I came from and help people too.”