NORMAL - Chamberlain Oguchi's route from Oregon to Illinois went right through Texas. Illinois State's basketball team added another recruit Wednesday when Oguchi, a 6-foot-5 swingman who has played three years at Oregon, joined the Redbirds.
Oguchi, who is on scholarship, arrived Tuesday night and attended his first classes on the ISU campus Wednesday.
A native of Houston, Oguchi announced in the spring his intention to transfer and got his release from Oregon. The coach of his Houston Select AAU team, David Salinas, is good friends with first-year ISU coach Tim Jankovich, who has coached and heavily recruited in Texas.
Thanks to that connection, Oguchi visited ISU in the spring. Oguchi wasn't concerned about joining a new coach after watching the up-tempo style used by Kansas, where Jankovich was Bill Self's right-hand man the last four years.
"Kansas is a good team and coached by the best, and Coach Jankovich was a big part of that," said Oguchi. "I know that he really knows what he's doing and has a lot of knowledge."
Oguchi, who goes by the nickname "Champ," can practice with ISU this season, but he will have to sit out games per NCAA transfer rules. Oguchi will have one season of eligibility with the Redbirds in the 2008-09 campaign.
"He's a guard with very good size and athletic ability, and to go along with that he's an outstanding 3-point shooter," said Jankovich, who first saw Oguchi when he was a sophomore at George W. Bush High School in Houston. "He's played in a lot of big games, whether it's the NCAA Tournament or Pac-10 games, and he's had stretches of success."
Oguchi played for the Nigerian national team last week at Angola in the African qualifying tournament for next year's Olympics. Nigeria lost in the quarterfinals and won't be playing in the 2008 Games in China. Oguchi was born in the United States, but has dual citizenship because his parents were born in Nigeria.
After beginning last season as a starter for Oregon, Oguchi suffered a severe ankle sprain in the sixth game and missed the next five games. When Oguchi returned, he saw his playing time diminish behind junior Bryce Taylor and freshman Tajuan Porter. Ochuchi only played 11 minutes in the NCAA Tournament as Oregon advanced to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Florida.
Oguchi finished the season averaging 4.8 points while playing almost 16 minutes per game. After being one of the team's top 3-point shooters his first two seasons, Oguchi slumped to 25.9 percent last season. He made 115 3-pointers and shot 31.9 percent outside the arc in his three seasons with the Ducks.
"I feel like if I make one, I can make 18," said Oguchi. "I feel I play with a lot of confidence and will try to do anything I can. I'm a fierce competitor and don't take losing lightly."
The highlight of Oguchi's career at Oregon came in the 2006 Pac-10 Conference Tournament. He averaged 21 points in three games and set a tourney record with 14 3-pointers while being named to the all-tournament team. Oguchi scored a career-high 26 points against Washington State in the quarterfinals.
Jankovich didn't hesitate to add a player who will play only one season.
"Over my coaching tenure I believe there's been three different times there's been this exact same scenario, and they've all worked out terrific," said Jankovich. "Every time, it's been a win-win for everyone."
Because Oguchi can practice with the team this season, Jankovich actually views Oguchi as a two-year commitment.
"For anyone, a redshirt year is good. A guy can concentrate on personal development. I've seen guys make great strides," said the ISU coach. "We're counting on him making us better behind the scenes."
Oguchi, who will major in political science, said he has sat on the bench before, but doing it for a whole season will be a learning experience.
"It will make me more hungry for when I get my chance (in 2008)," he said.
Oguchi is the second transfer for ISU since Jankovich was named coach in March. Landon Shipley, a 6-1 guard from Austin Peay, joined the Redbirds in June as a recruited walk-on. Shipley will have two years of eligibility starting in the fall 2008.
Shipley is recovering from an undisclosed surgery earlier this month and is not participating in individual workouts.
"I barely recognized him," said Jankovich, as Shipley has lost 18 pounds. Shipley could be ready for the official start of practice on Oct. 13.