Saturday, August 09, 2008

Big Chuck in the House

Charles Okwandu, the 7-foot-1 Nigerian JUCO transfer, was at Saturday night's Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game and is now living on campus in Storrs. He finished summer school at Harcum (Junior) College this past Friday.

"I am so excited," he said of kicking off his career at UConn. Okwandu will have three years of eligibility with the Huskies. Somewhat of a newcomer to the game, he may struggle for minutes this year with Hasheem Thabeet back in the fold, but he's eager to learn.

"I'm just blessed to be at Connecticut," Okwandu said. "I don't care if I play this year, I'm blessed to be in the program. I need to brush my game up. I just started playing 2-3 years ago. I know I have the skills, I just have to work hard, listen to the coaches, the players, and things will go well for me."

Muscling up against the 7-3 Thabeet every day in practice certainly won't hurt.

"That's why I came to Connecticut, I want to change my game," he said. "I want to play against somebody taller than me, so my game is going to improve."

Okwandu was impressed with the gathering of past stars at tonight's game.

"It's a great family coming together, old and new players. It's something great to see."

Particularly Emeka Okafor, whose parents come from Nigeria.

"Somebody from my country ... I'm proud to see him here today."

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