By Cameron Stubbs
The Youngstown State University men’s basketball team has passed the midway point of the season, going 10-10 overall while only going 4-6 in conference play. As of now, it’s sitting in eighth place in the conference.
With the team underachieving so far, there are a few bright spots that have shined through for the team. One of those bright spots is senior forward Michael Akuchie and his career points as a Penguin.
Akuchie, a 6-foot-8-inch senior from Plantation, Florida, just became the 41st player in program history to record 1,000 total career points. This achievement was accomplished in the home loss against Northern Kentucky on Jan. 13. Akuchie finished the night with 12 points, but that was not enough to overpower the Norse as the game was lost 68-67.
Akuchie, known for his paint presence, is also a well-schooled student. During Akuchie’s high school years in Florida, he finished with a 4.2 GPA and was a 4-year letter winner. Averaging 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game, which was good enough to land him on the Miami Herald All-Broward Second Team.
Coming north all the way to Youngstown State to play basketball and to major in marketing management would be tough on anyone making that trip, but Akuchie has made the most of it. Surrounded by new obstacles, he has no fear of any of them.
“It means a lot. I’m not from here — this is a new place, new family, new people, everyone has welcomed me with open arms. The love that people have shown me. [I’m] thankful for everything that they showed me. All the work that I’ve put [in] over my five years is paying off,” Akuchie said.
Akuchie came to Youngstown State ready to make an impact, and the evidence of that has already been seen. In his second career game at the collegiate level, Akuchie scored a career high 28 points in just 21 minutes against the Franciscan Barons.
Continuing to grow throughout his sophomore season, a very different Akuchie was born in his junior season. Scoring in double figures 14 times this season was seven more than his previous two seasons combined. His senior season was highlighted by his Horizon League record of 24 rebounds, a double-double performance in overtime against Robert Morris.
Now in his fifth year, Akuchie is averaging 12.8 points with 7.2 rebounds per game. The second half of the season will have to be even better for him and the Penguins.
“I expect a lot of good things, a lot of confidence from a lot of people, a lot of patience,” Akuchie said. “We’ve [played] every team basically except for a couple. People understand the league more, understand when they’re going to get their shots, understand roles a little bit more. I imagine everybody will calm down, play their game. I feel we’ll do really well in this second half of conference play.”
Akuchie was more excited grabbing his 700th rebound for the team than scoring his 1,000th point.
“When I’m being effective or I’m scoring or I’m drawing attention, I feel like that allows [my teammates] to play their game, be free, be a threat, be aggressive, just play freely. It helps me, too,” Akuchie said.
Akuchie and the Penguins look forward to playing the University of Wisconsin Green Bay Phoenix at home Jan. 27, hoping to start the fire they need to get back on top in the division.