During a January basketball game last year at Allegheny College, Ikenna Nwadibia ’14 locked into a rhythm. He scored 19 points that night and topped things off by rocking the house. With just 21 seconds to play, the Lords faced a 69-69 stalemate. A teammate swung the ball around to the right wing, where Nwadibia collected it, began his dribble, stutter-stepped, drove to his right, and lifted the game-winning shot over two defenders.
“I think basketball is the sport that is most dependent on the idea of rhythm, and I’ve definitely had games where I’ve been in a rhythm,” said Nwadibia, who’s known on campus as Ike. “It’s great because it feels like you just can’t miss. You just get going and the energy translates from one side of the floor to the other.”
One week later he did it again, scoring 22 points and orchestrating a buzzer-beating layup in a one-point triumph over DePauw University.
The surges of rhythm emerge spontaneously, but they’re rooted in confidence and experience. As a freshman, Nwadibia wrote out a set of personal goals and taped them to the ceiling above his bed. The resulting motivation helped him to quickly mature into a starter, an all-conference player, and even a preseason All-American. His personal progress was mirrored in the performance of the team, which improved its record by seven games over a three-year span.
Nwadibia has been able to take many of those goals off the ceiling. As a junior, he led the Lords in scoring and rebounding, and now, in his senior season, he has a very real chance of becoming only the fourth player in Kenyon history to register at least 1,200 points and 800 rebounds in a four-year career.