Akuchie latest to join YSU

Michael Akuchie had a memorable visit to Youngstown State University.

The business school caught his eye — a place where the senior high school basketball player can further his education.

Of course, he was intrigued by the passion of new YSU men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun and his desire to create a winning tradition, too.

Akuchie, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound small forward, goes to school at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has a love for hispanic and Caribbean/island food — staples in south Florida. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, seafood is a feature delicacy as well.

He got a taste of home on his recent trip to YSU.

“I had lobster bisque at a restaurant on my visit, which was amazing,” said Akuchie, who made a verbal commitment to play for the Penguins next season.

Akuchie, who has a 4.2 GPA, chose YSU over offers from Colgate, Cornell, Florida International, American and Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.

The St. Thomas standout averaged 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals per game last season. He also shot 40 percent from 3-point range.

Calhoun, nor his staff, can comment on a recruit until they officially sign a National Letter of Intent.

YSU currently has four of its five available scholarships for the 2017-18 season secured with Akuchie, Jacob Brown (6-8, 183), Naz Bohannon (6-6, 220) and Garrett Covington (6-4, 190). Akuchie said he’ll likely sign on Monday. The other three have signed.

One possibility for the last scholarship is former Delaware State point guard Devin Morgan, a 5-10, 180-pound player who would have two years of eligibility. The Chester, Va., native would have to sit the 17-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Morgan has been offered a scholarship by YSU, but the former Delaware State guard has not made a verbal commitment. Morgan led Delaware State with 14.7 points and 3.3 assists per game, along with shooting 37 percent from 3 and 89.4 percent from the foul line.

As for Akuchie, he emulates his game after Indiana Pacers star Paul George, a 6-9, 220 who has the strengths Akuchie hopes to bring to YSU.

“He’s a big guard who can shoot it, put in on the floor and make plays, rebound, and play defense,” Akuchie said. “I like to pride myself on being a big guard/wing who’s very versatile and can do just about everything on the court.”

Basketball is his passion, but it doesn’t define the Florida native.

He enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing NBA2K and relaxing. Akuchie likes walking by himself to clear his head, think and get his mind in the right place, either around his neighborhood or in the city. He can stroll in nearby Mill Creek Park when he comes to Youngstown.

“They shape me because I try to always keep my mind in a strong place but always stable,” Akuchie said of his off-the-court hobbies. “Never too high, never too low.”

It wasn’t just one thing that convinced him to eventually sign with the Penguins.

“Everything from the business school to my relationships with coach Calhoun and (assistant) coach (Jason) Slay really influenced my decision and in the end brought me to YSU,” Akuchie said.