Chijioke: 14-year-old power forward who idolises Durant

Basketball is not a sport for everyone but when you are 6 feet 8 inches, and you have a talent akin to NBA superstar Kevin Durant you are already among those who can succeed at the game.

Praise Chijioke, a towering 14-year-old power forward, emerges as one of the brightest young stars in the vibrant world of basketball. Standing tall at 6 feet 8 inches, his passion for the sport mirrors his immense stature.

Residing and attending classes at Strong Tower College on Modipe Street in Ondo State, Chijioke’s journey into basketball began as a mere exploration at the age of 12 during his time in Junior Secondary School One.

The local courts of Ondo State served as his initial playground, a place where his basketball odyssey commenced.

Kevin Durant

“I started playing basketball just to try, this was when I was 12 years old in JSS1. I went to a basketball court in Ondo State and that was when I started playing the game.

“When I first started playing basketball, it was a challenge. But my determination to prove myself pushed me forward. I loved the game, and I was eager to silence those who doubted me,” Chijioke told

With Pheonix Suns forward, Durant as his idol, the 14-year-old aspires to replicate Durant’s versatile skill set.

“My role model is Kevin Durant. He is a good player, I would like to be like him because he has everything. He has the height, he has the jumps, he has the handles and the finishing, everything one needs to be a good player and I would like to be like him in the future,” the Enugu native said.

His fondest basketball memory traces back to his transition to full-court play, a milestone that filled him with immense joy.

“My happiest memory in basketball was when I started playing full court because when I first started it was so hard. It was very hard to bounce the ball for me, everyone was just making jest of me because there were very good players.

“One day, my coach called me and said, ‘Praise, you are going to play full court today,’ I was so happy, and I performed very well, even the coach and everyone around me acknowledged it. I was just having goosebumps. I was just very happy,” the JSS3 student stated.

Remarkably, Chijioke claims to have no sad memories associated with basketball. For him, every aspect of the sport brings sheer delight as basketball serves as his sanctuary.

“I don’t think I have any sad moment in basketball, everything about basketball gives me joy, everything is just fun. Even wearing my sneakers, wearing my kit and coming to the courts.

“When I am sad, when I step on the court, everything just goes, I don’t think I have any sad moment like that,” he told PUNCH Sports Extra.

While familial support may be absent, Chijioke finds solace and encouragement from his coach, saying, “When I started basketball, my parents were not aware because I do not live them but they did not support it.

“I live with a guardian in Akure who also did not support me but my coach has been supporting me, helping me with a lot and telling me to keep practicing because he believes in me.”

Okolu Ndubuisi, Chijioke’s manager and basketball scout, recognizes the budding talent and fervor within him.

“Well as a scout and manager I saw someone who loves the game and he is ready to achieve his greatest dreams in basketball. He already has the height and a whole lot of talent so he is already halfway there for me,” Ndubuisi said.

“His greatest strengths are his rebounding and an unstoppable power drive. I believe he will go far in the game if he stays focus and stays humble.”

As Chijioke continues to hone his skills and nurture his passion for basketball, his story stands as a testament to resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of one’s dreams in the realm of sports.

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