NJCU’s Wosu a model of perseverance and persistence

Chinwe Wosu’s now burgeoning basketball career didn’t exactly come easy.
Born and raised in Jersey City, Wosu first started to play around with a basketball at age 5. He played at Liberty Charter Academy in grade school, then went to University Charter for high school.
“It was a good experience for me,” Wosu said. “I knew I wanted to play in college.”
But there haven’t been a lot of student-athletes who graduate from University Charter and go on to college athletics.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Wosu said. “I knew I was definitely going to have to spend some time in the gym to get ready.”
Wosu then went to the tryouts for the New Jersey City University men’s basketball team.
The results were not positive, as NJCU head coach Marc Brown cut Wosu from the team.
“I saw him play in open gyms and he just wasn’t ready for it,” Brown said. “He couldn’t handle the ball and couldn’t shoot. But I was encouraged by his attitude.”
Instead of putting his head down and sulking away, Wosu approached Brown after his release.
“I called Coach Brown on the phone and asked him if he could give me some drills that would make me a better player,” Wosu said. “I wanted to get ready for the following year, because I was going to try again. I felt like I had a home here.”
“Once he said that to me, I had to respect it,” Brown said.
Wosu was a man to his word and tried out again for the 2013-14 season. This time, Wosu made the final Gothic Knights’ roster – but his playing time was extremely limited.
Wosu saw action in 18 games and scored a grand total of 42 points as a little-used reserve forward.
Wosu, who attends NJCU on an academic scholarship, then decided to take the 2014-15 season off to concentrate on his academic standing, working toward his degree in business administration in tourism and travel, with a focus on hospitality.
Wosu took a full class load of 18 credits and just couldn’t swing both his school work and basketball.
“I respected his honesty,” Brown said. “He had to concentrate on his academics. That says a lot about him.”
“It wasn’t an easy choice,” Wosu said. “I really wanted to play.”
Wosu then decided to come back and try to play as a senior.
“I was very determined,” Wosu said. “This would be my last chance. It was all or nothing.”
In the summer months, Wosu played every day, including a stint with the NJCU summer league team at Kean University.
“I also went to the gym a lot and ran a lot more,” Wosu said. “I knew I needed to build some muscle to prepare for the coming season. I just wanted to be a part of the team, to contribute a little.”
No one could have ever predicted how much of an impact Wosu would have on the Gothic Knights this season.
First, before the season started, Brown made Wosu a team captain.
“He’s the hardest worker on the team,” Brown said. “He’s a tenacious rebounder. He’s not the biggest guy or the strongest, but he works the hardest. Because of that, we made him a captain right away. I didn’t know then how much he improved. I could just see that he was resilient. I saw his attitude. I was just hoping over the last two years that he would stick with it and he did.”
But to the point where he’s averaging 14.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game? It may be one of the best improvements in college basketball at any level.
“It’s unbelievable how much he’s improved,” Brown said. “He combined his effort with skill. His shot has improved. He can score at the block and has some post moves. He has a pretty good mid-range shot. It was a line drive type before, so he put a lot of work in there. His improvement is the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen.”
More importantly, the Gothic Knights have a 10-6 record overall and an 8-2 record in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, good for first place currently in what is generally considered the toughest NCAA Division III league in the United States.
“I never expected any of this, not at all,” Wosu said. “Especially after not making the team as a freshman and not playing last year. I guess after I put the work in, it’s all paying off now. I think my shooting and decision making is much better. My shot was slow. I know I wasn’t ready to play college basketball. I’ve become a smarter player. I can catch and shoot quickly. I worked a lot on that. I have to always be ready.”
Wosu is also involved in off-campus charitable organizations, like the Gift From the Heart program that helps children in dire need of medical attention to receive the medications that they so desperately need. Wosu collected toys and gifts at Christmas time and donated them to children in the program.
“He’s an inspiration to us all,” Brown said. “He’s the epitome of what a student-athlete should be. We’re fortunate to have him.”
Because of his charitable work and his exceptional play this season, Wosu has been nominated for the national Jostens Foundation award, which provides support to people and organizations that enhance the lives of youth and promote educational opportunities.
Wosu is the first student-athlete from NJCU to be nominated for the prestigious award.
Wosu is set to graduate in May with a 3.4 grade point average. But he has eligibility as a college player remaining, so Wosu could attend graduate school and still play for the Gothic Knights next year.
“It’s a very tough decision,” Wosu said. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. It helps me to stay humble. I like this school. There’s always something to do here. I’m happy to be here in Jersey City. I’m not sure how I will approach that decision.”
Needless to say, the player who was once cut is enjoying his season with the Gothic Knights.
“It’s way more that I can ever imagine,” Wosu said. “I’m living it up and trying to enjoy it.”

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