NIU men’s basketball: Chuks Iroegbu finds home with Huskies

By Steve Shonder

Chuks Iroegbu, men’s basketball redshirt junior, is on his third team in four years.

He redshirted his freshman season with the Washington State Cougars, having attended there as a walk-on. After not receiving a scholarship offer, Iroegbu went to play for the City College of San Francisco Rams to try to improve his game in the hopes of finding a new opportunity. He found it with the Huskies.

Now, the Elk Grove, Calif., native is making his way as “an energy guy,” as head coach Mark Montgomery calls him. It’s a role that comes easily to Iroegbu.

“I bring energy off the bench,” Iroegbu said. “Whenever I get in, I just have to be a defensive stopper or score when I can in transition, maybe try and hit an open jump shot.”


Iroegbu’s one season at Washington State left a big impact, giving him the experience of playing with a program in one of college basketball’s premier conferences Most importantly, it gave him the motivation to up his game.

“It’s really made me work harder on my game,” Iroegbu said. “Not getting a scholarship offer out of high school and then not getting that offer out of the first year [at Wazzu] make me want to work hard and get to the level where I thought I should be.

“I definitely did [have a chip on my shoulder] when I got to the junior college level. I wanted to go to the best junior college.”

There are no hard feelings for Iroegbu after not catching on with the Cougars. His brother, Ike Iroegbu, plays for them, and Iroegbu still keeps in touch with several of the players and coaches.


The move to the California junior college powerhouse City College of San Francisco paid off for Iroegbu, who played a key role on a team that went 29-2 in the 2013-14 season. He played for the Rams for two seasons and spent his offseasons working to perfect his jump shot; however, he still went largely unnoticed in the recruiting world.

After attracting minor interest coming out of junior college, Iroegbu caught a break when a former Tulsa Golden Hurricane teammate of assistant coach Lou Dawkins tipped off Dawkins about Iroegbu, setting Iroegbu on a path to DeKalb.

All it took was one recruiting trip for him to know NIU was exactly where he wanted to go.

“I came out here and I just loved the atmosphere,” Iroegbu said. “I knew some of the guys already, so it made me comfortable right off the bat.”

All the time Iroegbu has spent with different teams has given him an added boost when it comes to game preparation and adapting to environments.

“I’ve really learned to play with different styles of players, different types of coaches,” Iroegbu said. “I think it’s made it easier to adjust to new things. It gives an edge.

“At City College, we were really a good offensive team, and a good defensive team, too, but here, Coach Monty really preaches defense. It’s on a whole other level. You just have to make sure you’re dialed in on every play and make sure you’re a good team defender. You can’t just be a selfish defender.”


Iroegbu is making himself a valuable part of the rotation in his first season with the Huskies. It doesn’t show on his stat sheet, but when the offense starts to get stagnant, he’s usually the first guy off the bench to try to jumpstart the scoring.

“He’s an energy guy,” Montgomery said. “He can still be a spark for us off the bench, when he gets in the game, for some reason he’s always at the free throw line; he’s attacking the basket.”

Despite averaging 12.3 minutes per game, Iroegbu’s 45 free throw attempts are fourth-most on the team. But, slowing down the game isn’t the only thing the Huskies’ “energy guy” does to bring a spark.

“He’s aggressive; he’s a strong guard, and we try to set him up a lob every time we get a chance,” said sophomore Aaric Armstead. “That really [gets] the crowd going. It gets us going as a team.”

After four years of looking for an opportunity to do what he loves, Iroegbu has finally found it.