Former Penn basketball star Ugonna Onyekwe to be named to Big 5 Hall of Fame


Ugonna Onyekwe had one of the most illustrious careers in Penn basketball history and was a leading star on the last Red and Blue squad to capture the Big 5 title.

Now, the former two-time Ivy League Player of the Year is about to add another accomplishment to his already decorated trophy case.

Twelve years after taking the court for the last time with the Quakers, the Big 5 announced on Monday that the two-time first-team All-Big 5 selection will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame in April.

Few players were more effective under former coach Fran Dunphy than Onyekwe. As a freshman, the six-foot-eight forward averaged 11.7 points per game and six rebounds per game en route to being named Ivy League Rookie of the Year. After Penn won the Ivy title, Onyekwe was named second-team All-Ivy and scored 17 points against Illinois in the NCAA Tournament.

Though the Quakers missed the NCAA Tournament in 2001, Onyekwe continued to thrive as he was named second-team All-Ivy for the second consecutive year.

The following season marked the first of back-to-back Ivy Player of the Year awards — and consecutive Ivy titles — for Onyekwe. He shot 55 percent in putting up 17.5 points per game to go along with six boards per contest in 2001-02, stats that earned him unanimous first-team All-Big 5 honors.

Up until the 2002-03 season, only one player had ever clinched consecutive Ivy Player of the Year honors. However, after posting 16.5 points per game and another 6.4 boards per contest, Onyekwe accomplished that feat, leading the Quakers to another Ivy championship.

Following his time at Penn, Onyekwe played eight seasons overseas in Israel and Spain.

Onyekwe finished his career with the Red and Blue in second place on the Quakers’ all-time scoring list. He also played in more games than any other player in Penn history at the time of his graduation.

Along with Onyekwe, former Temple guard Pepe Sanchez, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stan Hochman and broadcaster Bill Raftery all comprise the Big 5 Hall of Fame Class of 2015. The quartet will be formally inducted on April 13 in a ceremony to be held at the Palestra.

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