THE NEXT BIG DEAL: College recruiters will have one more year to land Chimezie Metu, the superstar from Lawndale High School who has put the basketball team on the map in the loaded CIF-SS Division I A. Full Image 360/Jevone Moore Photo
Four years ago I was walking into 7/11 convenient store on Prairie Ave. near my home in Lawndale and recognized this unusually tall kid with his parents.
Being the sports nut and that I am, I ask the kid if he played basketball and when his replay was yes, I thought I had discovered the Next BIG Deal.
When I was informed that he was from Nigeria, my antennas really sky rocketed. I was inspired from my visit to Abuja and Port Hardcore in 2011 and consider Nigeria my adoptive country.
I was all in on Chimezie, and he and his gracious parents allowed for us to exchange phone numbers.
Today, that tall kid is a 6’9 junior monster for the Lawndale High School Cardinals drawing interest from major colleges and staking his claim as the next great basketball player from Southern California.
Chimezie may be ranked in the top 54 players in the nation for his class, but he is oozing with the potential to be an NBA player.
He has a 7-foot wingspan, tremendous leaping ability, is agile, can put the ball on the floor and is a shot blocking machine.
More important he plays the game with an edge to him, passionate to do better and never satisfied with what he has just accomplished.
I’m sure that Lawndale coach Chris Brownlee who has coached Chimezie throughout his prep career has been approached with all sorts of offers to pry his gem away from relatively obscure Lawndale, the Nigerian and his family has been steadfastly loyal.
Chimezie could have gone to any school, but has decided that going to one school and playing for a coach you believe in means something. He’s not looking for greener grass; he’s watering the grass in his own back yard.
It’s refreshing. Chimezie could be the next player behind Russell Westbrook and Dorrel Wright to hail from a Lawndale school to make it to the NBA.
The former soccer player-- which he played growing up in Nigeria before returning to America in the sixth grade -- Chimezie has always had a knack for scoring. He averages 17 points per game.
This year Lawndale moves up to Division I-A. In the meantime, the Cardinals are going through the regular season and on a given night a number of Division I head coaches will be present to check out Metu.
There have been a number of great athletes from Nigeria such as 's Christian "The Nigerian Nightmare" Okoye formally of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and NBA hall of Famer Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, but Chimezie is writing his own legacy.
It will be one that many will remember for a very lone time.