Sac State men’s basketball player is the ‘connector of the team’

Senior forward Osi Nwachukwu shows his leadership on and off the floor


Rahul Lal

Sac State senior forward Osi Nwachukwu poses with the ball at center court at the Nest on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Nwachukwu has been averaging 6.2 points per game this season.

The Sacramento State men’s basketball team is one win away from securing a .500 or better record for the third time since the Hornets moved to Division I in 1991. 

The Hornets have also been dominant at home with a 10-4 record this season.

As one of the seniors, forward Osi Nwachukwu is nearing the finish line with the Hornets. However, he said he is looking to get the most out of his last regular season game as well as the Big Sky tournament.

“It was a journey, it was fun, I enjoyed doing it with the group of people I did it with,” Nwachukwu said. “And I feel like it’s not close to finished.”

Nwachukwu said he wants to use the tournament as a way to really showcase his talents, and of course, wants to come back as a champion. 

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Coach Brian Katz describes Nwachukwu as selfless when it comes to the team and praises his attitude.

Nwachukwu is also one of the leaders of this team, and his impact is felt throughout the team’s day-to-day. 

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“Osi is pretty much the connector of the team, he is the one that gets everyone going,” said senior center Joshua Patton. “He helps out in a lot of ways many people would overlook, he helps keep guys confidence up and he never lets himself or anyone else get too low.”

By the end of his junior season, Nwachukwu said that he felt he could handle the task of being a leader.

“I’m an example kind of guy, I do it and I try to do it enough to where you see it and once you see it, it could rub off on you,” Nwachukwu said.

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Rahul Lal
Sac State senior forward Osi Nwachukwu performs a layup in the Nest on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Coach Brian Katz described Nwachukwu as selfless when it comes to the team, praising his attitude.

Coming into his senior season, he said he wanted to make sure that relationships within the team were tight knit.

“It feels like it’s been 10 years not two,” Nwachukwu said when describing the bond he has formed with his teammates.

Katz said that Nwachukwu has excelled in his leadership role. 

“I’m really proud of him, he has really adapted (and) adjusted to all the things we asked him to do,” Katz said. “Some of it’s not easy.”

The Hornet’s defense is first in the Big Sky and sixth in the nation allowing just 58.8 points per game on 41% shooting. All season Nwachukwu has been putting out stunning defensive efforts, being a pest in the passing lanes and often taking the responsibility of the opponents best wing defender.

“It’s fun for me, I love doing that. I love the challenge of going out there and trying to disrupt their offense,” Nwachukwu said after their match against Eastern Washington on Feb. 1.

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When he arrived at Sac State, Nwachukwu said that he wanted to embrace the role of a player whose defense is infectious and who energizes the rest of the team. 

He said that he was the best player on his high school team at San Leandro, so defense was always there. As a Hornet, he has dedicated himself to taking that next step defensively. 

“It’s something that now I really take pride in you know, I want to get defensive player of the year,” Nwachukwu said. “I want everybody to be turnt up off my effort and my defensive ability.”

Nwachukwu said he wants to leave his mark on the younger players as well because he will be passing that torch. For him, he wants to ensure that the bonds that the team has created can continue into the next seasons even without him there. 

“I tell them a lot, ‘That’s not where you should be putting your energy,’” Nwachukwu said. 

Basketball has been in Nwachukwu’s life since he was in the fourth grade, and in his junior year in high school he played on the Oakland Rebels AAU basketball team which began to open doors and give him opportunities to showcase his talents across the country.

After high school, Nwachukwu embarked on a quest to a Division I scholarship going from Oakland to DME Sports Academy Prep in Daytona Beach, Fl. He said that experience was beneficial for him because it was his first time on his own and it allowed him to grow.

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Luis Platero
Senior forward Osi Nwachukwu defends a pass against Northern Colorado at the Nest on Saturday, Feb. 15. Nwachukwu and the Hornets play their final game of the regular season Saturday at Portland State University.

After averaging 28 points per game in prep school, he came back to the west coast to play two years for Antelope Valley Junior College in Lancaster, California. Then, Sac State presented itself as an opportunity for Nwachukwu to play for a Division I university. 

“(After prep school and junior college), this was the two years that I actually felt like I experienced a legitimate university experience,” Nwachukwu said.

Playing for Sac State also allowed Nwachukwu to be closer to his hometown and his family. He said playing for Sac State meant his mother got the opportunity to come and watch his games.

Prior, she had been unable to attend a game since high school.

Off the court, Nwachukwu said he uses his passion for music and writing as an outlet. Nwachukwu is not just a heavy listener, but also loves producing music and writing lyrics for songs. 

“I feel music is something that is the biggest thing for me since I was in high school,” Nwachukwu said. “Even when basketball wouldn’t do it for me, it would be (music).”

Nwachkwu has also explored writing for films and has begun to write his own movie. These talents are what drew him to a major in communications. 

“That’s why I enjoy communications so much, just how practical it is for me,” Nwachukwu said. “I can leave the classroom and something I just learned in the classroom I can immediately use or I can experience it and see it.”

After this season, Nwachukwu will be looking at the pro level for his next move, whether that begins with the NBA’s developmental G-League or a professional league overseas, it all depends on the fit and what works best for him.

“Once everything clicks, which it will, then I’ll know exactly where it will be,” Nwachukwu said.

Nwachukwu and the Hornets play their final game of the regular season Saturday night at Portland State University.