The Chomp: Senior Forward Eche Okeke shares his experience on closing out his final season at SF State

March 20, 2023

Welcome to the Chomp Pod, a sports podcast that brings Bay Area sports news to SF State. In February, SF State Senior Eche Okeke was one of four students who earned All-CCAA honors for the 2022-23 season. Sports editor, Jack Davies, and staff reporter Arman Archouniani sat down with Okeke as he shared his upbringing and experience playing at the collegiate level.


Jack: Hi. My name is Jack Davies, and I’m the sports editor of Golden Gate Xpress

Arman: And I’m Arman Archouniani, a sportswriter on the staff and we will be our host on this episode of the Chomp Pod.

Jack: We’re excited to be bringing you the Chomp Pod again this semester. We’ve had a few semesters off, but it’s great to bring the podcast back to you guys.

Preview of the show

Jack: This episode will be talking about SF State sports on campus, the Golden State Warriors as the playoffs approach and the offseason for the San Francisco 49ers.

Arman: Also later in this episode, we will have a guest from the SF State men’s basketball team. Senior Forward Eche Okeke. Eche made the All-CCAA second team and was a key player for the Gator’s playoff push.

News Brief

Arman: But first we will talk about our local sport, the Golden State Warriors.

Jack: Yeah, the Warriors have had a rough season so far, being three games over 500 is definitely not what you would expect from a team that just won the finals last year, but there’s definitely been some good things as well. You know, they looked really, really good at home, but they’ve been so bad on the road, which is definitely concerning this far into the season. What do you think is going on there for the Warriors, Arman?

Arman: I think it’s literally night and day from when they play out at home and when they play on the road. I mean, on the road, you just can’t expect to outshoot teams. People are going to be on top of their game when they’re playing the defending champs. They’re not just going to roll over and let you beat them at their own court. I think the road rules really make this team very unpredictable. But also, it’s like the stars have to carry the team until Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Gary Payton come back. I mean, these are key guys on both ends of the floor. They make the difference, I think, in terms of defense. Right now we only have Klay Thompson, who’s arguably our best defender other than Draymond. But these are key guys that are missing on this defense. And truly you’re going to have to play defense if you want to win on the road. And without that, you’re not going to win a championship. I think a fully loaded Warriors team can still beat any team in the playoffs. It just comes down to them putting it together and getting this team back on the road.

Jack: Yeah, I agree. I think. I really do think they can beat anybody as they’ve shown like they beat the Bucks earlier this week. So they can definitely beat good teams. They just have to be more consistent.

Arman: And it’s the month of March and that means free agency is here. The San Francisco 49ers off-season will be talked about and I think it’s a really interesting time in the NFL right now.

Jack: Yeah, with free agency starting up here the 49ers have been pretty active early on in the last few days, making a big swing but also losing some key players. It’s been good to see them so aggressive early and they’re obviously trying to retain a Super Bowl-contending roster, but it’s pretty tough with the salaries that they have for so many of their really good players.

Arman:  Yeah, I agree. I think being this aggressive early on will also just put the league on notice and be like, hey, we’re still here, we’re still one of the best teams in the league. I think John Lynch has done a great job as a general manager at San Francisco, but I think we just need to get over that hump and just two hours into free agency, Lynch pulled the trigger and got Javon Hargrave from the Philadelphia Eagles and I think that’s just such a big key for this defense because D tackle sacks have not been too existent in the San Francisco team for a while. So just getting another guy on the defensive line just makes this team that much better. I think Lynch could have got that Executive of the Year award just from what he did last season. But going into this season, I think this is really a really big year for 49ers fans and I think there’s a lot in store for them.

Arman: Also retaining Jake Randall was good just getting your center. I mean that’s one of the biggest positions in the game I think, I’d also love to see John Lynch pull the trigger on Sean Murphy Bunting. I think he’s still a really young player, still 25-years-old, a really serviceable cornerback. If you put him as your number two cornerback next to Charvarius Ward. I mean, the sky’s the limit for the secondary.

Jack: Yeah, and they really do need to add some cornerbacks with the losses of Jimmie Ward and also Emanuel Mosley. Those are two really good corners and the secondary was really good for the 49ers this past season as was linebackers and defensive line but now they have a whole lot of cornerback. They obviously addressed the weakness of defensive tackle from last season so it’s good to see them address that that major hole. I’m still a bit worried about the offensive line, but the reality is they do still have a really good team and I think the signing of Hargrave does make them a bit better than they were last year.

Jack: And now we move on to SF State sports. The only teams actively competing this semester for the Gators are baseball, softball and track and field. The basketball and wrestling teams wrapped up their seasons earlier in the semester. The men’s basketball team ended the season hot, winning seven of eight games and they finished 16-12 on the season to make the playoffs. However, they did lose in the first round and will also be missing key players next season, as three of the four seniors were starters for the team. The women’s basketball team finished 8-20 and will also be losing several key starters as well.

Arman: The wrestling team won 7-12 on season, but also placed 10th out of 11 teams in the super regionals. The baseball team started off 5-1 and is currently 9-6 after a five-game losing streak. They will be hoping to bounce back for the middle part of the season. Obviously, the weather has been an issue with their games as a couple of games have been postponed. To highlight, sophomore Nick Upstill leads the team with a .442 batting average and is second on the roster with 12 RBIs. Senior Cory Gardner is hitting .364 and leads the team with four home runs and is leading the team in RBI as well with 18. On the mound, we have sophomore Nathan Shinn who has a 2.12 ERA, which leads the Gators’ pitching staff. The softball team is also in their season as they are 7-10, but they’ve also had four games postponed due to weather. Both teams will head to San Bernardino for a four-game series this weekend, Hopefully with the weather being okay. Sophomore Kai DeLeon is batting .348 on the season and also has an on-base percentage of .423. So she is having a good season so far. And also sophomore Kaitlyn Maddux is also pitching well, who has a four-win record with three losses with a 2.89 ERA.

Jack: And the track and field teams will be hosting an invitational the weekend of April 14-15 at Cox Stadium. It’ll be a big event with teams from all over the country coming in this D2 invitational. So Gators go check it out. It would be great to have people supporting our athletes at Cox Stadium. Now we will have our interview with senior Eche Okeke from the men’s basketball team.

Main Story

[interview audio begins]

Eche: What’s going on?

Arman: So yeah, talk to me a little bit about where you started your student-athlete life. How’s it been at SF State?  Just talk to me about that.

Eche: I really started playing basketball when I was in the fourth grade before I was like a soccer player. Like, well, like I’m from Nigeria. So, you know, like, soccer’s really big, like internationally. So that was really the main sport. I used to play till like the fourth grade. A couple of my friends got me into it and then I had like a growth spurt in middle school and I was just like, is kind of what I want to do is in between football and basketball. At the time I just chose basketball. It was a safer ground. I guess my mom did want me to get hit all the time playing football, so I just chose basketball. Coming to SF State it’s been it’s been pretty, pretty solid. I feel like there’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I feel like that’s what comes with playing at the college level. Like when I first came in my first year here, I redshirted, which means I didn’t really I wasn’t on the active roster, so I didn’t play any games. And that first year was very hard for me because I mean, coming out of high school, you’re the best. You’re probably one of the best or better players at your school so just coming in just not even touching the floor. Even having an opportunity to do was rough on my mental and I feel like that carried on for a while and I feel like not until last year and this year that I really like accepted my role and I feel like my confidence finally just started coming back. So I feel like the biggest thing about college sports is just the ups and downs of it. Like, obviously you’re in it because you love basketball, but what people don’t tell you is there’s a lot of other stuff besides just putting the ball in the basket.

Arman:  And then was there like a turning point? Like, was there a coach that talked to you and was like, Hey, this is what I need from you? Or it was just kind of up to you to figure it out.

Eche: I feel like it, I feel like it was a process. Like, like there’s always people in my corner telling me, like, trying to keep my confidence up or like, reminded me why I’m here and the fact that I am here because not, not many people get this opportunity. So it’s like you’re moving up on that ladder and and you’re worried about you worried about things in the future and things you can’t control. And it’s like I’m, I’m in a spot where I want to be in and I feel like, I feel like that was the biggest thing, just me understanding that for me, it was a lot of players, a lot of older guys in my younger years here that that really helped me with that. To name a couple, it’s like, Book, I’m still in contact with him. He’s playing overseas basketball right now and I feel like he’s, he’s been like the top guy that really helped me remember why I’m here and why I love this game and, and he’s he’s he’s gave me that, that confidence. And then another person would be like my coach, my head coach. Me and him have a lot of ups and downs just because we’re both competitive people. So like, we, we butt heads a lot sometimes. But I feel like that, that also helped me a lot because even, even when I didn’t want to hear it, he would tell me the truth. So that’s something I really appreciate from him. And I feel like just a combination of all those things really gave me that confidence this year, just to just play a play like myself and just and feel free, honestly.

Arman: And then what’s the balance of playing on, focusing on sports and then also maintaining like the academic side of it? Like, what’s that, what’s that balance like for you?”

Eche: Honestly, like, people think it’s easy. It’s really not like I feel like it’s, it’s very similar just to having a job where you’re going to school like you’re I have a job and I’m going to school. I feel like that’s that’s literally what it is. Like, you come every single day, you’re working out like and, and it’s not like we’re not we’re probably not there for 8 hours but its like the time we are there is just it’s very intense work, and and it’s and it’s a lot mentally and you have to pick up a lot of stuff daily and it’s just I feel like that that’s the thing that people don’t understand that even though we love doing this, it’s still it’s still a job kind of.

Arman: What was the overall experience this year with the group of guys you guys had?

Eche: I want to say from the jump, off the court has just been great, everybody has been good. Like like I feel like there’s always at least one or two players that doesn’t really get along with with the team, but I feel like this year it was just like everybody. Everybody got along for the jump and I feel like that really helped us all later on throughout the year. Well, we were struggling, so like we started conference one in seven, which is just terrible. One win and seven losses in eight games. That’s awful and then that New Year came around where we had that winter break and we came back in January and and like I feel like the togetherness of our group really helped us push past that point and we felt we finally started playing together. You finally started playing like how we knew we could play because we just started trusting each other. So I feel like the yeah, that, that trust aspect in that and that knowing each other and just knowing each other off the court, I feel like that really helped us because then we, we went on to winning. I think it was like 11 of our last 14 games. We won like 11 in our last 14 and and it’s honestly been a crazy experience. Like this is probably like the craziest year basketball I’ve been a part of in terms of like ups and downs wise. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but but I’m glad we figured it out at the end.

Arman: And then you being a senior, talk to me about that. How does that feel for you? What’s the next step for you?

Eche: For me, being a senior It’s just so weird. Like, like I’ve always been one of the younger guys on the team. Like, even in high school, when I was playing J.V. and Varsity, I was always the younger guy on the team, obviously until like my senior year. But but being a senior and is like having everybody look to you, it’s it’s a different feeling of like responsibility of of like you have to come in every day understanding that people are looking to you to see what you do on a daily basis. So if you come in and slack off or you come in and you’re not giving you 100, or you, you’re not doing what you supposed to be its like that feeds everybody else. And that’s what everybody else sees and that’s what everybody else would do. So I just being a senior, I feel like the biggest thing is understanding that eyes are on you whether you like it or not, whether you’re playing or not, just to see how you react to certain situations where they deal with the coaches, fans, refs just anything basketball related. So I feel like it was a good experience and I’ve learned a lot being in this leadership role and yeah, that’s really it.

Arman: All right. Thanks for coming on.

Eche:  Appreciate you, man.

Arman: Good luck, man.

Eche: Appreciate it, thank you.

[interview audio ends]


Jack: All right. That’ll be it for this first episode of the Chomp Pod this semester. We’ll be releasing a few more over the course of the semester. So please keep an eye out. Thank you guys for listening. And also follow our Twitter page @TheChompPod. @TheChompPod on Twitter. Thanks again, you guys, and we’ll see you in the next episode.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Jack Davies
Jack Davies, Sports Editor
Jack Davies (he/him) is a journalism major in his final year of school. He is minoring in international business. He loves to watch sports and write about them, but also has an interest in potentially traveling the world as a salesman. He grew up in Napa Valley, California, and moved to the East Coast when he was 11 years old. He started his college career at Santa Barbara City College, where he wrote for The Channels publication as a sports writer. In his free time, he likes to play sports, explore the Bay Area, hang out with friends, listen to music, play video games and watch TV. After graduating, he wants to write for a sports publication and travel the world.
Photo of Arman Archouniani
Arman Archouniani, Sports Editor
Arman Archouniani (he/him) is the sports editor for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in media literacy. He was born and raised in Daly City and enjoys living in the area. As a kid, his dream was to become a professional athlete. Arman loves his local sports teams such as the Golden State Warriors, the San Francisco 49ers, and the San Francisco Giants. He was previously the sports editor for The Skyline View at Skyline College. His dream now is to become a sports analyst for a major sports media company.

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