BUFFALO – April 28 – Erie Community College sophomore forward God’s Gift Achiuwa (Port Harcourt, River States, Nigeria) announced today he will sign a National Letter of Intent to continue his education and collegiate basketball career at St. John’s University of the BIG EAST Conference.
A two-time NJCAA All-America selection, Achiuwa led the Kats to a 28-4 record and a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA Tournament this past season. A first-team All-America pick, he ranked ninth in NJCAA scoring at 22.3 points per game, 10th in rebounding with 11.7 boards and 17th in blocks with 2.2 rejections per contest.
The 2011 Region III Player of the Year and Region III Tournament Most Valuable Player, he finished his career with 1,092 points and 765 rebounds. He posted 23 double-doubles, including 11 consecutive and even recorded a triple-double against Essex (N.J.) CC (Nov. 12, 2010) with 25 points, 24 rebounds and 12 blocked shots. Achiuwa scored 32-or-more points four times with a season-high 39 points coming against Monroe C.C. (Feb. 8, 2011).
As a freshman in 2009-10, he helped lead ECC to a 27-2 record and averaged 13.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game en route to earning NJCAA third team All-America and Region III Co-Player of the Year honors.
St. John’s, under first-year head coach Steve Lavin, went 21-12 and played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The Red Storm finished the season ranked 18th in the Associated Press Top 25, marking the first time it qualified for the postseason as a ranked team since 2000-01.
“’Gift’ is a talented frontline player who possesses tremendous size, strength, speed and skill. He is an ideal fit for our baseline-to-baseline attacking style of play,” said Lavin, the USBWA District II Coach of the Year. “The maturity Gift gained from two years of junior college basketball with a combined 55-6 record will make him a nice complement to what will be the youngest roster in the country next season. He is fundamentally sound and comes from a program with a tradition of winning, where a strong work ethic, playing hard and discipline is demanded on a daily basis.”
Quotes from Thursday's press conference:
God's Gift Achiuwa
“I’d like to thank (ECC head coach Alex Nwora). He discovered me and brought me here. Basketball-wise, he pushes me to do whatever I need to be better. And be a better person, too. I’m so happy I ended up here.
I’d like to thank my teammates. This is a team game and my teammates really, really helped me to get to this point in my life. I am very grateful.
I’ve only been in the (United) States for 18 months and I really wanted to know and be sure about the decision I had to make. I’m so happy I made a decision and put this behind me.
“It was a very difficult situation for me because all of them had a very good academic programs and basketball programs. I talked to (coach Nwora) because he knows more about college basketball programs here. I asked him so many questions. He told me to take my visits and then decide.
I went to Cincinnati for my first visit, Washington for my second visit and finally, I went to St. John’s last weekend. I came back and talked to my coach about my experiences during the visits. I talked my parents back home, my family, and most importantly, I talked to my pastor … I’ve decided to attend St. John’s University. I’m so happy that I chose this program. I’m so excited and can’t wait to go there.
There are so many reasons why I think that. One, is they wanted me more than any other college I visited. Second, they have a great coaching staff. They have three guys who were in the NBA as part of their coaching career.
Next, New York City is a great place and Madison Square Garden is like the biggest stage in the world. I’m very fortunate to have the biggest city in the world as my home court.
They’re going to be a very young team and I like their style of play – they’re a running team – that’s the style I like to play.
Those are the main reasons why I chose St. John’s for my remaining years of college basketball.
I’m very, very happy to announce to everybody that I’ve decided to go to St. John’s University.”
“I met him almost three years when I was running a basketball camp in God’s Gift state. He was the MVP of my camp. I told his coach I wanted to see this kid one more time. A year later, I went back and I decided at that time it was time for him to come to the States to work on his basketball skills and use that platform to get an education. It’s worked out for him. He’s worked extremely hard to make it work not only for himself but also for his teammates.
To be going to a BIG EAST school is a very good accomplishment for Erie Community College. One thing I’m happy about is it looks like most of his credits are going to transfer. He’s a very good student (3.61 GPA) and, after it’s all said and done, he’s going to need that education to prove he cane make it after basketball.
I’m very happy for him to be moving on but now it’s time for me to find another God’s Gift.”