Pitt men’s basketball forward Kene Chukwuka announced early on Thursday that he’s staying with the program for the 2017-18, ending two months of uncertainty about the makeup of the team’s roster following the firing of former coach Kevin Stallings on March 8.
Chukwuka, Pitt’s first Swedish-born men’s basketball player, averaged 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in 17 minutes as a sophomore during the 2017-18 season.
During his first season with the team, Chukwuka gained a reputation as a high-energy defender and fearless rebounder that wasn’t afraid to get under the skin of opposing players.
He came to Pitt after spending one season at New Mexico Junior College and he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Chukwuka joins Terrell Brown, Samson George, Peace Ilegomah and Shamiel Stevenson as returning forwards for the squad. Khameron Davis and Jared Wilson-Frame will return at guard, as will Malik Ellison, who sat out the 2017-18 season at Pitt due to NCAA transfer rules.
Chukwuka’s return will help balance Pitt’s scholarships. N’Dir and Wilson-Frame will be seniors, Chukwuka and Ellison juniors and Brown, Davis, George, Ilegomah and Stevenson will be sophomores.
After Pitt’s players almost universally requested their release from the university following the firing of Stallings, only three ended up not returning to the school. Point guard Marcus Carr transferred to Minnesota, power forward Ryan Luther graduated and transferred to Arizona and shooting guard Parker Stewart transferred to UT Martin, where his father is the head coach.
With Chukwuka returning, new Pitt coach Jeff Capel has two scholarships to work with for the upcoming season.