Two JUCO frontcourt players moving on to four-year colleges

May 2, 2012 in Cover Story, Division I, JUCO, NAIA

By Patrick Hayes

In need of a shot-blocking interior presence with the losses of Eli Holman and LaMarcus Lowe, the University of Detroit will partially fill that void by picking up the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Detroit announced that Oakland Community College big man Ugochukwu Njoku has signed a letter of intent. Njoku averaged 8.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game for OCC, anchoring a team that was ranked in the top 10 nationally several times over the past two seasons. Detroit coach Ray McCallum said in the news release that Njoku’s defense will be a definite help:

“He is an athlete and a guy who can rebound and block shots and he comes from a winning program,” said McCallum. “He is also a straight-A student and he will be in the mix for playing time as we build depth in the frontcourt. We are losing the best defensive frontcourt in the Horizon League with Eli (Holman) and LaMarcus (Lowe) and he definitely brings a defensive presence to the floor.”

Njoku made it extremely difficult to get shots off in the paint against OCC the last two seasons. He’s long, athletic and moves pretty gracefully for a man who is 6-foot-11. He’s pretty slender, but he might actually be more filled out than Lowe was when he transferred to Detroit after his freshman season at Western Michigan. Njoku is a work in progress and pretty raw offensively, but as long as he can get on the offensive glass and catch and finish around the basket occasionally, Detroit probably won’t ask him to do much more than that.

Another JUCO big man, Stavros Schizas of Kirtland, recently committed to Rochester College. Schizas, a 6-foot-6 forward with a diverse offensive repertoire, averaged 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last season. In a news release, Rochester coach Klint Pleasant said that Schizas had been a target for some time:

“We’ve been recruiting Stavros for 2 years and have worked pretty hard to get him and we’re very excited that he has made the decision to attend Rochester College,” said head coach Klint Pleasant. “I feel like Stavros is a Rochester College type player in that he plays hard, he defends, and he is a team first guy. He can do some special things on the floor. He can score inside, he can score outside, he shoot’s the ball well, and handles the ball well.”