Marcel Esonwune is among those selected to attend the 2020 USA Basketball 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournamet Photo Courtesy: Marcel Esonwune
By Angel Adegbesan
Marcel Esonwune, a York alumnus, was selected to attend the 2020 USA Basketball 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament training camp. Class of 2011, he currently plays for the New York Harlem 3×3 basketball team.
From the pool of 16, the USA Basketball 3×3 player selection committee will name four men to represent USA Basketball at the 2020 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, March 18-22 in Bengaluru, India. The top three finishing men’s and women’s 3×3 teams will earn a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games 3×3 basketball competition. Esonwune is currently ranked fifth in top 10 FIBA 3×3 players from the United States.
Esonwune started his basketball career at York from 2007 to 2011. He had no prior basketball experience prior to his freshman season with the York Cardinals. He immigrated from Nigeria with an aspiration to be a soccer player.
Esonwune was on the Men’s Soccer team at York before he was recruited by the head men’s basketball coach, Ronald St. John and the assistant men’s basketball coach, Jessica Cherry during a student vs. staff basketball game.
“The head coach and assistant coach were playing on the staff side,” Esonwune said of that day in 2007. “And when they saw me playing, they came up to me and asked me what sport I played. I told them that I didn’t play basketball but soccer and they laughed and told me that “no, you’re going to play basketball. “Trust me, young man” the coach had said.”
“So, that was it, I went home, and I got a call from my soccer coach about the transition and next thing you know, I was on the basketball team,” Esonwune added.
His game steadily improved as he went through college and he has stuck with it since graduating. He went from averaging 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a freshman to 20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks as a senior for the Division III Cardinals. Esonwune totaled 1,818 points, 1,325 rebounds and 360 blocked shots during his 109-game playing career. He holds the record at York for rebounds and blocks. Now, he is one of the top 3×3 players in the world and plays for one of the top 3×3 teams in the world.
“Honestly, I think York played the most role in my success,” Esonwune said. “If there’s a pie chart, I’ll give York about 60 percent because when I first came there, I didn’t think I was good enough to be on the team.”
“But as the year went by, I think my coaching staff saw something in me that I didn’t see,” he added. “They kept telling me “you’re going to be good” , “just keep working hard” ; and, every year, I saw the results. If someone believes in you as much as they had believed in me, telling you “you’re going to be good”, you see the results yourself and that makes you want to work even harder to exceed expectations.”
Esonwune earned dual bachelor’s degrees from York in Interdisciplinary studies and Accounting. He currently works as an accountant in Queens.
“I like how my life is right now,” Esonwune said about future aspirations and life goals. “Everything I’m getting right now is just a blessing added on. I couldn’t ask for more than what I have now. How many people could say they had an opportunity to play for USA training olympics? For that, I’m very blessed for this opportunity.”