By Jeff Uveino
Move over “Chef Curry,” there’s a new “chef” in basketball.
Freshman Tshiefu Ngalakulondi is ready to start his college basketball career at St. Bonaventure. “Chef,” as he goes by, is a 6-foot-6-inch small forward hailing from Manchester, New Hampshire.
Attending Proctor Academy, he averaged 16 points and eight rebounds per game over his senior season in high school. He was named to the Class AA All-New England team both his junior and senior seasons.
Ngalakulondi was ranked by ESPN as the #2 recruit to come out of the state of New Hampshire this past year, and the #91 recruit out of the entire East region. He opened up about the recruiting process.
“I looked at mostly A-10 schools,” Ngalakulondi said. “I knew that this was a great league, and I knew that the team was going to be good this year so that was another reason that I chose to come here.”
Attending a preparatory high school, Ngalakulondi expressed, has made the transition from high school to college somewhat easier for him.
“It’s not too much of a difference because in high school I was living on campus, so I already had a feel for living away from home and being in that environment. So, the adjustment is not as hard,” he said.
Ngalakulondi will be looking to make a difference for the Bonnies this season, and has plenty of competitors to battle with in practice. An upperclassmen-heavy team, Ngalakulondi said that he has learned a lot from the experienced veterans on the roster.
“It’s not high school anymore,” he said. “It’s a whole new level. Bigger, stronger guys, faster guys. They’ve helped me transition over, it’s been helpful having them to look up to because they’ve been here and know what they’re doing, so they can show me the ropes.”
With many experts picking St. Bonaventure to get an NCAA tournament bid this year, the team knows that they will have to meet high expectations all season. Ngalakulondi has embraced the attention that the Bonnies have been getting from the media, but knows that they need to go out and perform.
“It’s great, it’s really something I’m looking forward to,” he said. “Predictions don’t really mean anything, you have to put in the work and that will make us accomplish our goals.”
Ngalakulondi ‘s size should play a large part in his game. Although he stands at 6-foot-6, his athleticism allows him to play like he’s 6-foot-8.
With big men Amadi Ikpeze and Josh Ayeni returning, however, Ngalakulondi will have to work to see consistent minutes during his rookie season.
“My goal is to come out with energy and help the team win however I can,” he said. “Whether its rebounding, running the floor, knocking down shots, it’s just whatever I can do to make the team win.”
Ngalakulondi offered what he thinks the Bonnies have to do in order to find success deep into the postseason.
“We just have to play together, play hard all the time, and stay out of foul trouble. If we do all of those things, we can have a really good season,” he said.
Regardless of his role this season, Ngalakulondi has a long career ahead of him at Bonaventure, and his potential begs Bonnies fans to ask, what is the ‘Chef’ cooking?