In order to be a guard in college basketball, a player needs to be analytical. He needs to know the trajectory of a pass, the angle of a shot and the seconds on the clock. In essence, a good guard is good at math. And junior guard U.C. Iroegbu is certainly good at math.
“U.C. took his graduation money and he bought stocks with it,” Southern Idaho head coach Jared Phay said. “He can sit down and talk the stock market with people more so than I can.”
The transfer is one of the late additions to the Stony Brook men’s basketball team. But being a transfer is nothing new to Iroegbu, who had transferred out of Franklin High School, in Elk Grove, California, to Christian Capital, 20 miles away in Sacramento during his sophomore year of high school.
When his senior year came around, he could not find a Division I offer that he liked. Rather than playing for a team that would not allow him to grow as a guard, the California native headed 585 miles northeast to Idaho.
During his time with the Golden Eagles, Iroegbu was buried on the depth chart. The team had two talented guards running the point: Fredrick Edmond, who would go on to play at Western Kentucky, in his first year and Shaq Carr, who is currently playing for Grand Canyon, in his second.
“We had a really good point guard both years when he was here,” Phay said. “So we didn’t need him to be a point guard, but we tried to develop him there.”
Despite averaging barely 13 minutes per game during his career, Iroegbu looked to expand his game outside of playing point guard and become a more versatile player.
“I think that for us, he thought that maybe if he was a point guard, it would help his recruitment,” Phay said. “But at the same time he knew we needed to win and he wanted to win so that was probably it.”
In his last game for Southern Idaho, Iroegbu scored 17 points off the bench in an 82-60 loss to Salt Lake Community College in the Region 18 Tournament. Just a few months later, he traveled 2,407 miles from Southern Idaho to Stony Brook.
The Seawolves are in need of some scoring help. Last season’s top three scorers have all graduated and senior Ahmad Walker, fourth on the list, was arrested and subsequently dismissed from the team. Iroegbu’s reputation for being able to shoot the ball will be much welcomed on the team.
“U.C.’s a combo guard,” Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals said. “He can really shoot the ball… He’s been around basketball his whole life and he’s going to be an exciting player for us.”
Not only does his ability to score help the team, but his character does as well. At Southern Idaho, Iroegbu took Ar’Mond Davis, currently playing for Alabama, under his wing. Iroegbu used to help Davis with his homework and, according to Davis, Iroegbu was so good that he could have gone to an Ivy League on his math skills alone.
Iroegbu is one of three transfers on the team. Junior forward Junior Saintel and sophomore guard Blair Mendy join him as newcomers from the junior college system.
“We call ourselves the JuCo Gang,” Iroegbu said. “We’re kind of like a trio. We hang out a lot, we spend a lot of time together. So, we’re all really close… Hashtag JuCo Gang is going to be in full effect this year.”
Unlike the more free-flowing junior college system, where players make their own schedule, Iroegbu now faces a more regimented program. Each part of his 24 hours is planned out. Flexibility is minimal. But that is when he believes that he is at his best.
“I definitely thrive with the more structured the things are,” Iroegbu said. “I always hold myself accountable to a high level. That’s just how I grew up — my parents were, I wouldn’t say disciplinarians, but they definitely taught me right from wrong.”
The numbers — 2,407 miles, 13 minutes per game, three transfers — while significant, pale in comparison to the number seven, Stony Brook’s rank in the preseason polls for the nine-team America East Conference. After winning the America East Championship, the Seawolves lost much of last season’s historic roster. While the talent has disappeared, the will to win has not, at least in Iroegbu’s mind.
“I just want to win, honestly,” he said. “People say, ‘oh, you come from ‘JuCo,’ it’s [Division I], it’s going to be–’ I know it’s going to different. But I’m definitely ready for it and I can succeed at this level. I just want our team to win and go as far as we can.”