Playing with Arkansas State to the Harlem Globetrotters, Tyler Junior College Assistant Basketball Coach Ifeanyi Koggu comes back to TJC but contributes on the sidelines.

Getting recruited out of Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Koggu had a couple of scholarship offers from Division I universities but a serious injury meant the lost of faith from those coaches except for one.

“I had looks from schools like Stephen F. Austin and UT-Arlington, but I dislocated my elbow in our first district game and those coaches fell off because they did not think I could get a full range of motion on my arm again,” Koggu said. “Marquis (TJC Head Coach) was the only one that stayed with me and it turned out to be a great opportunity to stay at home and play close to family.”

    However, while playing for Tyler Junior College was a good situation, Koggu went through a tough transition playing for Marquis.

  “My overall experience here was fun but at first I used to get mad because I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, but as I got older and as the season was progressing, I got more comfortable with the system,” Koggu said. “I started to realize that he (Marquis) would keep getting on me was to make me the best player I could be.”

 In 2006, the team faced a huge obstacle as an eighth seed in the conference tournament. The Apache Men fought to get in the tournament and had plans to ruin the party for first seed Paris. Paris, prior to the tournament had beaten TJC twice, but the men refused to go down three times and defeated Paris by fifteen points to advance in the tournament.

“We had to win and hope other teams lost just for us to make the tournament and we made it, but had to face Paris, Koggu said. “Beating them by fifteen in a sold out crowd here was probably one of the most memorable moment I had here, and for my playing career.”

Koggu played two years at TJC and decided he was ready to jump to the next level. Three hour long practices and constant screaming from coaches were challenges Koggu faced to become a contributor at DI Arkansas State. Though he was pushed harder physically and mentally than he ever had as an athlete, Koggu got accustomed to the atmosphere.

“Man, it’s crazy at the DI level especially practices. The coaches would call a player by a curse word than by their name and would stay with that for days,” Koggu said. “Still, as the season went by, I stuck with it and my body adjusted to the physical beatings.”

By the end of Koggu’s stint in Arkansas State, he averaged four points and three assist every twenty minutes per game. 

 

—  see RETURNS page 9—

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