He’s the big man with the even bigger play.
At 6’11” and 255 lbs., John Egbunu is hard to miss on the court—or anywhere for that matter.
The redshirt sophomore has been in Gainesville for a year now, but will get his first taste of play in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center when the season kicks off on November 5, 2015 with an exhibition game against Palm Beach Atlantic.
For the past year though, as he sat out due to NCAA transfer regulations, Florida Gators basketball fans have grown more and more anxious for his presence on the court, specifically on the inside.
Head coach Mike White recognizes this as well, recently saying, “I would imagine that we’re going to have an opportunity to take advantage of a big guy though in John Egbunu who can score on the interior. He’s done it at the Division I level. He’s had a great off-season.”
The last time he did it at that Division I level was at the University of South Florida in Tampa. There as a freshman, he played in all 32 games, starting 31, averaging 6.2 rebounds and 7.4 points per game and was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Rookie team. With that resume, he came to Florida and has added a mindset that certainly seems to be advantageous for White and the Gators.
“I feel like I’m just willing to do whatever the coach asks me to,” says Egbunu.
“That’s my mindset and that’s how I go into every practice, and every game.”
That humble attitude is present in everything Egbunu does. He’s a quiet guy, never raising his voice but the farthest thing from boring or monotone. An ever-present chill attitude with a sweet disposition and an unsuspecting humor brimming underneath; he’s well spoken in a way that suggests maturity beyond his years and the knowledge that actions speak louder than unnecessary words anyways.
This is never more obvious, at least to Coach White, than when Egbunu steps on the hardwood.
“He’s very, very passionate. He plays loudly,” describes White. “I wish all our guys would play loudly. He’s very aggressive. He plays with a high level of intensity especially if the ball is in his hands or he’s around the ball. John is a very talented young man. We expect him to have a really good career.”
As that career progresses, Egbunu’s parents will watch it from afar.
He’s a native of Bauchi, Nigeria where his parents still reside. They watch his games through the power of technology and stream them on the computer. It’s also how he beats the five-hour time difference to keep his parents updated with his life.
“I mean I speak to them every day and I Facetime them and stuff, which is good.”
They haven’t seen him play live in nearly five years and that’s something he’d love to change this season.
“It would mean a lot to me,” he said. “It would mean a lot to me.”
As the Florida Gators prepare for tip off of their new season and new era, John Egbunu is hoping for a meaningful return to basketball as well, bringing his big play to the floor.