Amanze Egekeze runs down his list of goals – hoping to be regarded as Huntley’s best player ever and earning Class 4A All-State honors – fully realizing what can get him there.
“Just try to dominate every night I’m on the court,” Egekeze said. “I want to be dominant every night.”
As a freshman, Egekeze was slender but played a key role as a reserve. As a sophomore, he led a balanced Red Raiders team in scoring, although there were other options as well. As a junior, he missed the first half of the season after undergoing surgery for patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
Egekeze is now poised to put everything together. He is bigger (6-foot-8 and 210 pounds), healthier (the knee feels much better) and more well-rounded (coach Marty Manning considers him their best outside shooter) than ever. Egekeze is ready to lead Huntley toward a fourth consecutive Fox Valley Conference Valley Division championship.
“I still have a lot to prove,” said Egekeze, who signed with NCAA Division I Belmont this month. “I try to come in with the mindset that there’s even more people haven’t seen from me that I can show them. I’m trying to stay focused in that sense.”
Egekeze averaged 12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots last season and was instrumental in Huntley winning another division title while playing in 13 games.
“He’s much stronger and more explosive,” Manning said. “He can dunk anything around the rim, where before he struggled with contact or dunking in traffic. That’s not an issue for him anymore. His ballhandling has really improved.”
What Egekeze has improved most, though, is his outside shooting. He worked with personal coach Steve Preston, the co-founder of Hard 2 Guard Basketball, and also with former Huntley player Zac Boster, who twice won the IHSA Class 3A 3-Point Showdown.
“Steve’s really gotten my perimeter game a lot better,” Egekeze said. “Zac is one of the best shooters in Huntley school history.”
Manning is ready to see his big man take over games this season.
“He has the potential to be a dominant player on the offensive and defensive ends, rebounding, blocking shots, being intimidating inside,” Manning said. “Big guys have trouble guarding him on the perimeter, our guys can’t guard him in the post. He might have been able to do that last year, but we never saw a healthy Amanze play. I don’t want to call it a ‘breakout year,’ but see him be the dominant player he can be.”
Egekeze, who has 598 career points, knew he could get bigger through lifting weights, but the added 2 inches in height was a pleasant surprise. With much less pain in his knee, he enjoyed a strong season with a tough Illinois Wolves travel team, playing top competition around the nation in the summer.
Forward Zach Gorney, who has known Egekeze since kindergarten, is excited to see what the Raiders can do with his friend leading the way.
“He has great character and great morals,” Gorney said. “He’s a hard worker and a good student. He’s pretty funny, too. He’s going to mean a lot on the offensive and defensive ends. He can score a lot and he’s definitely a defensive force.”
Egekeze has a chance to accomplish something that has not been done before in the FVC by playing on four consecutive conference (or division) champions.
“It’s taken me to this year to realize I’ve been in on a lot of things that a lot of other players can’t say they’ve done,” Egekeze said. “It’s a testament, first of all, to the teammates I’ve had. If I didn’t have them, then I wouldn’t have that milestone. I’ve had a lot of good talent around me.”