#BigWestNation Tour Diaries: Destination Hoops with Kennedy Esume
Growing up in Umuaja, Delta State, Nigeria, Kennedy Esume was more concerned with scoring goals and staying onsides than he ever was about rebounding or making free throws. It wasn't until Kennedy was in high school that he even considered picking up a basketball, thanks to a little push in the right direction from his P.E. teacher when the instructor realized just how tall he really was.
"I just kept growing and growing and growing," said the now six-foot-ten Cal State Fullerton senior. "If everyone wants me to play this game so much, I think I'll give it a try."
Without easy access to a gym or the sport itself, Esume searched for an opportunity to play. After finding a coach who knew the game, Esume approached the sport like he does everything else, like a student.
"I just started learning. I wasn't really the best guy, but I was big and everyone was willing to work with me.
"I started working out and my body started to transform into something else."
Esume attended a camp at home and caught the attention of a scout from the states. One thing led to the next and with his mother's blessing, in September 2012, Kennedy moved to America to attend the College of Southern Idaho.
There the center averaged 3.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in his freshman campaign, the first time he had ever played organized basketball.
Though his first season saw success, Esume did not want to stay.
"It was a really, really, really tough transition."
The rookie packed his things and returned to Nigeria.
Though as fate would have it, Esume would not be home for long. Shortly after returning, Esume missed basketball and everything that came with it.
"My body subconsiously missed it," said the Titan. "I went back home feeling idle, without a purpose.
"I started talking to my coach and he gave me the option. I jumped on it. I wasn't done playing basketball."
Esume returned to Twin Falls to finish out his community college career before transfering to Cal State Fullerton under coach Dedrique Taylor. For the Nigeria-native, his focus was split evenly between two things: going to class and playing basketball and Fullerton provided the perfect opporutnity to commit to both.
In his first year with the Titans, Esume led his squad with 19 blocks while averaging 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Now in his final season in the orange and blue, the senior is averaging 3.0 points and 5.6 rebounds a contest. With a couple months of his undergraduate career still remaining, Esume is confident he made the right decision when he chose to keep playing.
"Having played basketball here, under the coaching staff, they're amazing people, and my teammates too."