MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu came to the United States from Lagos, Nigeria on October 11, 2012, four days after his 13th birthday.
It was a move he and his three siblings had to make.
“My biological parents had passed, and I didn’t really feel like I had anything — that I was leaving anything behind really, so it was just moving forward.”
He quickly turned to basketball as an outlet.
“Coming over here and putting all my effort and my mind into being good at this basketball stuff,” said Akobundu-Ehiogu. “It definitely just takes away from, you know, thinking about other things. A lot of Africans who come over here, like basketball isn’t our first sport, it is just something that we kind of picked up late. And because of that, we’re just determined.”
Akobundu-Ehiogu hadn’t touched a basketball before arriving in the States and he didn’t make the varsity team at his high school until his senior year. But, that drive and determination earned him a scholarship at a Southwestern Assemblies of God, a small NAIA school in Texas, before transferring to UT-Arlington.
In two seasons with the Mavericks, he racked up 134 blocks and his 2.6 blocks per game placed him 20th nationally.
“I just bring a different type of energy to the game with like my blocks and my fastbreaks, and chase down blocks.”
That’s the reason Akobundu-Ehiogu decided to put his name in the transfer portal and test the NBA waters.
He was in Los Angeles doing pre-draft workouts when Tigers coach Penny Hardaway reached out.
And out of the top nine programs – like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and others — that offered him, he decided to commit to the U of M without ever stepping foot on campus.
“The coaches talked about their plans for me in terms of how they plan to develop me and how they’re trying to use me on the court and mainly just the players that they have and that they have brought in like with the point guard, Kendric [Davis]. One of the best point guards in the nation right now, you know, I feel like we’ll complement each other. You know, he’s a good passer. I run the floor. I jump.”
“Kaodirichi” means leave your problems to God and that’s been his adage to live by.
“I’ve definitely come far, but I don’t really reflect as much because I feel like there’s more work to be done.”
Akobundu-Ehiogu will have his official visit with the Tigers this week.