Wednesday, August 5, 2020
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Student Athlete of the Week: Fidelis Okereke
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published April 9, 2020

King/Drew senior Fidelis Okereke is team captain of the boy’s basketball team and is taking three Advanced Placement classes (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The King/Drew boys’ basketball team was a dominant force in the City Section with the help of senior Fidelis Okereke. His frontcourt presence on offense and defense made him the Coliseum League Player of the Year.

He has gotten offers from several schools, including Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State East Bay, and Binghamton University.

Okereke aided the Golden Eagles to a 25-9 overall record, they also went undefeated in League play. King/Drew was ranked 45th in California with Okereke scoring 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.0 blocks per game.

“We got a chip on our shoulder from last year,” Okereke said. “We all just team up, going against each other, just trying to get each other better, challenging us in any way.”

This was the Golden Eagles’ first year with the Coliseum League. Okereke maintained an ardent focus on an ultimate goal of winning championships and held his teammates accountable.

“You got to remind them about the long-term goal and they will calm back down,” he said.

As team captain, Okereke led the Golden Eagles through the City Section Open Division playoffs and finished in third place. This gave King/Drew a seventh seed in the Division II State playoffs, where they reached the Regional Semifinals.

He never allowed the wins to make him arrogant, Okereke knew every game mattered despite the outcome. Their loss to Fairmont Prep gave them lessons to help throughout the rest of their season.

“We just came back from the night with View Park, we all felt tired,” Okereke said. “[Fairmont Prep] came back up and they ended up beating us in double overtime, but we learned that we need to try to find a way to take care of our bodies.”

A person that keeps Okereke motivated is his mother, she had to overcome the challenges of going to college while raising him and his siblings. He appreciated all the hard work she puts in and noted how “she’s in for the end game.”

“She’s still working for it,” Okereke said. “She has her Masters … she’s still working in school and pushing herself because she wants to make more for us.”

In order to prepare himself for college, Okereke took three Advanced Placement classes: Psychology, Statistics, and Environmental Sciences. He noted that schoolwork is like basketball: 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. He does not let his workload stress him out.

“I end up doing my [schoolwork] early so that I won’t have to worry,” Okereke said. “I won’t turn in no rushed work and I’m still learning everything that I have to do.”

Being a student athlete is more than just being good at time management for Okereke, it means that you must monitor your actions. While certain practices may be tolerable out of other students, that same practice could get a student athlete in trouble.

“Being in sports, you put yourself in a special place, so if anything bad happens to you, they will attack you more because you’re in that place,” he said. “You can’t be the one recording in the fights because they’re gonna find a way to pull you in.”

Okereke did not play organized basketball until his sophomore year. That season, King/Drew won the Division II City Section Championship. They went into the Division IV State Playoffs, reaching the Regional Semifinals as a 15th seed.

Categories: Basketball | Education | Exclusive | High School | Sports
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