Cardinal Hayes’ Ekwu headed to Davidson

Cardinal Hayes Nathan Ekwu has already made one big move in his life and had to contemplate if he was ready for another.

The 6-foot-7 senior forward came over from Nigeria two years ago to work toward attending college in the United States. His current decision about whether to relocate again for college wasn’t quite as easy. Cardinals coach Joe Lods said Ekwu had a tough time choosing between local Fordham and Davidson in North Carolina.

“Going away is never easy,” Ekwu said. “This is more like my home. If I am going to go away it’s some thing I really have to think about.”

He ultimately decided to leave The Bronx and attend Davidson, making it official with a verbal commitment last Friday. Ekwu built a strong bond with Wildcats coach Bob McKillop and with his future teammates during his visit. He said it felt like home and went with what his heart was telling him.

“He told me what the school was all about,” Ekwu said of McKillop. “He wasn’t trying to sweet talking me into anything. He was just honest.”

The journey to this point was a long one, filled with plenty of hard work. The All-Bronx first team selection by the Bronx Times, missed his whole junior season rehabbing from a knee injury. He made up for lost time this season. Ekwu was a dominant force in the paint. He could control the backboards on both sides of the floor seemingly by himself at times. Ekwu was a prolific shot blocker. On offense he could score inside and step out and make the midrange jumper.

Ekwu averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds and helped lead Hayes to a 26-2 record this season. The Cardinals won the school first CHSA Archdiocesan title since 1977. His lone regret was not bringing home the city crown. Ekwu gave Hayes something it lacked last season

“He was a huge different maker,” Lods said. “When our guards got beat off the dribble he would fly in and block a shot. He was a great rebounder in traffic. He was tough. He was excellent.”

The coach called him one of the nicest kids he’s coached. He is happy he landed at Davidson, a choice he called hard to argue with, but is sorry to see him go. Ekwu is one of four Hayes seniors with Division I scholarships, a group Lods said made him look good during their time in the Bronx. Lods and Ekwu both know going to college was Ekwu’s goal all along, something they were excited to see accomplished.

“It means a lot,” Eku said. “It’s more like a dream come true. I am happy.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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