Kalamazoo Native Returns A National Champion
Nmeso Nnebedum, a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has had dreams of playing professional basketball for as long as many can remember. From neighborhood parks, to YMCA ball, to AAU, Nmeso has consistently played basketball year round and is still working to perfect his craft. Coaches and other players really began to see his potential in middle school as his work ethic ramped up he started to take strides above his classmates. Playing basketball in high school was inevitable and this is where his dreams started becoming realistic.
Nmeso attended Loy Norrix High School where he played 4 years of basketball, 1 year on freshman the last 3 years at the varsity level. He was the point guard for a varsity squad that won a couple of playoff games but no district or regional championships. He did however receive a scholarship to play college basketball at the NAIA level for Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan.
Nmeso spent his freshman year of College at Siena Heights University(SHU) appearing both varsity and junior varsity games for the saints. When asked about SHU and his time there, Nmeso said:
That experience was just me getting my feet wet but I just needed a new environment to help me grow. I planned on going to a junior college with plans of playing at a higher level but when I re-opened my recruitment, there weren’t any jucos interested so I went to the only offer I had which was Olivet College.
His time at Olivet College was short lived, he loved the environment but the change in school proved to be a problem for him. He fell behind in his studies and ultimately became academically ineligible and moved back home. This wasn't the end of his career, he went back to the gym and continued working on his game and looking for opportunities. That's when one of his mentors created one for him.
South Suburban Style
One of Nmeso's mentors, Justin Webb, took him to an open gym at South Suburban and what happened next is the breakthrough he had been looking for. When asked about what happened at the open gym Nmeso responded:
He took me down there for an open gym and I got offered on the spot. The reason I chose South Suburban was because I knew they were a junior college powerhouse and Coach John Pigatti track record of sending guys the the 4-year level.
Little did he know that he was signing himself up to be apart of a very special team and season. Nmeso accepted an offer to play at South Suburban College in South Holland, Illinois. Nmeso and the rest of the South Suburban Bulldogs would go on to dominate most of their competition in route to the first undefeated season in school and National Junior College Athletic Association(NJCAA) history. When asked what it's like to play on a team like this Nmeso said:
The best part about being on this team is simply winning. We pushed each other daily and no matter what we went through we always stuck together. The season was great, I sprained my MCL after my second game and missed 4 games but other guys stepped up and once I got healthy they brought me in with open arms. The tournament was great because we won a “thriller” at home 74-73 in the regional championship vs Waubonsee. That was only our second single digit game we won that was also to get to Danville (nationals).
Finishing with a record of 33-0 the South Suburban Bulldogs hoisted the NJCAA Division II National Championship trophy after their most recent game. When asked to give a synopsis postseason Nmeso replied:
First round of the sweet sixteen we beat Florida Gateway College 87-52 Elite Eight we beat Lakeland 82-63 Final Four we beat Des Moines Area (last years national champs) 69-57 In the Championship game we beat the #2 seed Davidson Davie 79-62
When asked how does it feel to be a National Champion Nmeso said:
It feels great to be a National Champ knowing what we went through at the start of the year and throughout the season. It’s kind of hard to believe but it’s true but like they always say Dreams come true as long as you have faith and put the work in.
Nmeso's hard work has paid off in more than one way and he will continue to pursue a basketball career, but for now himself and his teammates will be celebrating a very hard fought and earned national championship for some days to come. If you see him around or get a chance to talk to him, don't forget to congratulate him and/or wish him luck!