Aug. 27, 2012
After stepping onto campus four years ago as a preferred walk-on, Eso Akunne has seized the opportunity to be a University of Michigan men's basketball player and now enters his senior year.
The Ann Arbor native has faced a few setbacks throughout his career, most recently sustaining a foot injury last season against Purdue. The injury required surgery, and suddenly he found himself out for the remainder of the season. The injury put things into perspective for Akunne, and he began to truly appreciate his opportunity to play basketball at the University of Michigan.
Taking advantage of the offseason, Akunne has spent extra time watching game film and becoming a better student of the game. Entering his senior campaign, Akunne has his eyes set on winning another championship.
In an exclusive interview with MGoBlue.com's Morgan Bailey, Akunne talked about that season-ending injury, how it made him appreciate simple tasks like walking across campus, and his goals for the upcoming season.
On his expectations for the upcoming season ... "We ended last season on a bad note, but it was obviously still a good season. We accomplished something that hadn't been done since 1986, which was win a share of the Big Ten title. Overall, looking at the big picture, it was a successful year. However, we didn't finish well in the NCAA Tournament. I think what happened last year gave a lot of the returning players more confidence and also more motivation going into this year."
On what it was like dealing with a season-ending injury ... "I had never been hurt like that before in my life, so it was really strange. It put into perspective for me how lucky we are to play -- not even just basketball, but just things in general, like even going out and do normal, everyday things. Even to walk, I had to walk around in crutches and everyone was holding the door for me. It got really annoying. When it happened, things were really starting to pick up. Sitting on the sidelines, the competitive juices just started to come out, even at practice. It was really hard. A lot of prayer helped me."
On if he has fully recovered from that injury and been able to take advantage of the off-season ... "I had a little set-back during the offseason, but everyone puts in the gym time when you are playing college basketball, so a lot of it is how you approach the game and recognizing plays that you need to do within the game. That is where a lot of film work that I have done will help me when I get back to playing."
On his goals for the upcoming season ... "My goal is for us to win every tournament that we are in, the preseason and the postseason. We might as well go for it all. We have a lot of potential to be good, so we have to go for it."