The summer cannot come soon enough for Henry Uwadiae, a Class of 2014 basketball prospect who signed a national letter of intent with the Thundering Herd in November.
Before he enrolls at Marshall in August, however, Uwadiae will do something he has not done in five years.
"I look forward to spending time with my family," Uwadiae said of his parents and younger siblings, a brother and a sister. "I haven't seen them in so long. I will get to stay two or three weeks with them, so that will be nice. After that, I have to come back to Marshall and start working out with the team."
Nigeria -- Benin City, to be exact -- is home for Uwadiae, who is a 6-foot-11, 210-pound center at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Uwadiae grew up playing volleyball and running track. Standing 6-8 or 6-9 at the time, he began playing basketball when he was 16.
Coaches from Findlay Prep in Las Vegas discovered Uwadiae in Nigeria and offered him a scholarship to come to America.
Uwadiae accepted their offer. He told his parents, Henry and Caroline, goodbye at the airport in Nigeria and got on the airplane headed for America.
"That was really hard," said Uwadiae, who plans to eat a bunch of jollof rice and pounded yam, two of the Nigerian dishes he has missed the most, when he returns home. "That was the last time I saw them."
Uwadiae, whose favorite aspects of American life are freedom of speech, pizza and television, talks to his parents on Facebook "almost every day." They also call him on the telephone about three times per week.
Uwadiae, who will turn 21 this month, has had to learn almost everything about basketball since coming to America.
For example, in his first appearance at Findlay Prep, Uwadiae entered the game for the last two minutes of a blowout victory. The other team scored, and Uwadiae inbounded the ball to a teammate. No big deal except he did it from his spot in the paint rather than behind the baseline.
"The first time I played in America it was really shocking," said Uwadiae, who later played at United Faith Christian Academy and Evelyn Mack Academy, both of which are located in Charlotte, N.C. "I always thought basketball was a lot easier. Now, I realize there is more to it. There is a lot to learn. There is a lot to work on. It is just a process. I have come far. I have gotten a lot better. A lot, lot better. I still have my best basketball ahead of me."
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion certainly hopes so. The Thundering Herd needs an intimidating post presence, one who can rebound and block shots.
"I really think I have the potential and they have the knowledge to develop me into a great player," said Uwadiae, who will have three seasons at the Conference USA school. "I look forward to playing there."
Uwadiae has played in eight games for Kirkwood this season, recording nine points, eight rebounds, seven personal fouls, six turnovers and two blocks in 30 minutes for the Eagles (10-3).
"We play against a bunch of guards and smaller post players," Uwadiae said, explaining his lack of playing time. "My coach doesn't get to put me out there a lot because of the mismatches. The other teams have 6-4 guards and 6-5 forwards, so it is hard for me to guard them. When I'm on the floor against guys who are my size, I do really well. I think I will do a lot better in college because there are more guys who are my size."
Uwadiae committed to Wichita State in 2011, but he could not enroll at the Missouri Valley Conference school because he was academically ineligible. Instead, Uwadiae went to Kirkwood, where he had to sit out the 2012-2013 season because of his academic issues.
Uwadiae said he picked Marshall because of the relationships he built with Herrion and assistant coach Josh King.
"I just liked the way they talked to me," said Uwadiae, who wants to major in international business and become a naval officer. "They told me they could make me a great player. They told me they don't want me; they need me. That is what I liked about it."
Uwadiae was one of three recruits to sign with Marshall in November. The other prospects were Shane Hall, a 6-9 forward from Johnson Central High School in Kentucky, and Jay Johnson, a 6-7 forward from John Logan College in Illinois.
"Henry is a very important addition to our program," Herrion said of Uwadiae, whom www.NextUpRecruits.com ranked No. 32 in its rankings of the top 50 junior college players for the 2013-14 season. "He has a ton of potential as he continues to develop. He will benefit from playing for a terrific young coach in Bryan Petersen at Kirkwood, and we are excited that he will have three years remaining when he enrolls at Marshall."
Jacob Messer is the managing editor for HerdNation.com. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments and feedback are welcome. - See more at: http://marshall.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1599179#sthash.Rt8PbUX7.dpuf