Updated: February 7, 2003, 9:50 AM ETBy By Andy Latack, ESPN The Magazine
Emeka Okafor is stumped. He's sitting in Finance 203, a giant among men -- or, more precisely, a basketball player among business majors. Around him, unshaven frat boys and sweatshirt-clad women work laptops and lattes. It's the first class of UConn's winter semester, Applications in Financial Management, and the professor has passed out index cards to gather the usual student info. The first two are easy. Name: Chukwuemeka Noubuisi Okafor. Birthplace: Houston, Texas. But there's one that has Okafor confounded. Career Objective. He freezes, furrowing his brow and rubbing a Dasani water bottle across his goatee, making a sound like sandpaper. His card is still blank when the professor rises to collect it. At the last minute, Okafor hastily scribbles what he wants to be when he grows up. It's a hard question. Career objective? Mek's got a few of those. He has Discovery Channel smarts (3.8 GPA) and is on track to earn his finance degree by the end of junior year. Not coincidentally, that's also when many scouts expect him to enter the NBA draft. The 6'9", 250-pound sophomore is averaging a double-double for the Huskies this season (15.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg through January) while leading the nation in blocks (4.7) and keeping his team in the Top 20. If he left school this spring, he'd probably be a lottery pick. Add it all up, and it's no wonder Jim Calhoun makes sure Okafor hosts every major recruit who visits campus. "If you were to tell me he'd be the CEO of a major company, or a U.S. senator, or an All-Star power forward in the NBA," the coach says, "I'd believe any one of those."