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Chikasi Ofoma transforms from home-schooled unknown to Curie star in win against Leo

Chikasi Ofoma’s name has been floating around in Chicago high school basketball circles for several years.

Curie’s Chikasi Ofoma (23) takes the ball to the basket over Leo’s Jamari Allen (13).
Curie’s Chikasi Ofoma (23) takes the ball to the basket over Leo’s Jamari Allen (13).
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Chikasi Ofoma’s name has been floating around in Chicago high school basketball circles for several years.

He was home-schooled for most of high school but still popped up on recruiting rankings of players in the Class of 2023. He was ready to attend a high school and play basketball last season, but COVID put those plans on hold.

So there was some anticipation surrounding Ofoma this season. The 6-7 junior has made an immediate impact for Curie. He posted 22 points and 10 rebounds earlier this week against Brooks and 15 points and 10 rebounds against Fenger on Dec 3.

“People have the wrong opinion about me because they haven’t really seen me play,” Ofoma said. “So it is fun this year getting to show everyone what I can do instead of listening to what other people have to say about me.”

Sunday was Ofoma’s debut at a major local shootout. He formed a productive, dominant post duo with 6-5 junior Jeremy Harrington in the Condors’ 64-51 win against Leo in the Team Rose Classic at Mount Carmel.

“It’s exciting seeing all the crowds and how the runs go back and forth,” Ofoma said. “You just have to stay focused and listen to your coach.”

Ofoma finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and Harrington had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“We’re both versatile so we just listen to whatever the coach’s game plan is,” Ofoma said. “Today they had smaller guys so we knew we to play like posts in this game.”

Leo (3-1) started well. The Lions played fast, hard and smart and led 33-30 at halftime. They ran into a bit of a brick wall in the third quarter.

“We came out with no energy,” Leo coach Jamal Thompson said. “They made their free throws and we missed ours. That’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But this was a good learning experience for us.”

Senior Cameron Cleveland led Leo with 15 points and seven rebounds, junior Jakeem Cole scored 10 points and Austin Ford added eight points and 10 rebounds.

Curie (9-0) opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run and never surrendered that lead.

“We only have one senior and he never played that much,” Condors coach Mike Oliver said. “We are still trying to find our identity. When they play the Curie way we are good. But they don’t have enough talent to play as individuals, so when they try that we look bad. That’s what happened in the first half.”

Oliver had high hopes that his post duo would be effective this season.

“They both played on Team Rose over the summer and they worked hard,” Oliver said. “I knew they had a chance. They are finding their way now.”

Senior Phoenix Bullock added 13 points and four rebounds for Curie, who picked up the top seed at the prestigious Pontiac Holiday Tournament on Sunday. The Condors will face Bloomington in the first round on Dec. 28.

“We don’t rebuild, we just reload through our lower levels,” Oliver said. “These guys understand our system now. But everyone is going to be out for them now so they had better come out and play hard.”