Posted at: 11/16/2012 5:37 PM
Updated at: 11/16/2012 6:15 PM
By: Robin De Wind
A local basketball player is realizing his dream of getting a good education.
Athletes talented enough to get a Division I scholarship often focus on their sport over their education. But points scored, championships and playing time are not the priority for one local senior who signed his letter of intent today to play basketball for Syracuse University.
The Bishop Kearney senior class, along with the boys and girls basketball teams gathered in the gym Friday morning for a proud moment for all of them.
Nigerian born Chinonso Obokoh signed his letter of intent to play basketball for the Syracuse Orange.
Chinonso Obokoh said, “I wish like, wow I'm doing it right now, it's going to be over.”
The decisions and signing may be over but the adventure is just beginning. Obokoh known as "Cheeno" to his classmates came to Kearney in 2010. Then he was 6-7 and the only college game he had ever seen was the NCAA title game between Duke and Butler, a month before moving to Rochester.
But his priority for coming to the United States wasn't basketball but an education. Annemarie and Kevan Sheppard are Obokoh's host parents and legal guardians. Annemarie is a teacher at Kearney and was able to help him learn the language from scratch, but she didn't have to teach him to have a work ethic.
Annemarie Sheppard said, “From the beginning, he was all about academics. I could help him. He wanted a reputable program. It was a perfect fit. That's what he's excited about, of course the basketball is a huge deal, but the program is what he's excited about.”
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was one of a dozen Division I coaches who worked hard to recruit Obokoh, who now has his senior year of basketball to enjoy.
His new orange tie stands out just like he does.
Chinonso said, “I want to work hard I know I can do it I can do my best . All this I could never believe, it's a dream come true.”
Obokho will attend Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management. He hopes to become an accountant. He is the first Rochester student to receive a full ride to Syracuse since Greece Athena John Wallace from 20 years ago.