Prep seniors Chukwu, Bowtell sign college letters of intent
Two Fairfield Prep seniors signed national letters of intent Wednesday morning at the school, formally committing to continue their athletic careers in college. Paschal Chukwu, of Westport, will play basketball at Providence College and diver Jake Bowtell, of Darien, who won the 2013 State Open, will compete at the University of Virginia.
Bowtell repeated his sophomore year when he transferred from Darien High School, and he completed his athletic eligibility last winter. He will compete for his club team, Whirlwind Diving, at the New Canaan YMCA when he isn't watching the Jesuits swim this season.
Chukwu, who is 7-foot-2 inches tall and 220 pounds, is in his fourth year of playing basketball after growing up with soccer in his native Nigeria. He has lived with his guardians in Westport, John and Sheila Featherstone, since he attended Trinity Catholic in Stamford for his first two years of high school before transferring to Prep for the 2012-13 school year. Chukwu was a reserve attacker for the Jesuits' Class LL boys soccer state finalists in 2012.
But Providence College was aware of his potential in basketball -- particularly his stellar junior year -- and Chukwu's relationships with the Friars' head coach Ed Cooley and his staff helped him along in his decision.
"It's a good feeling to get this event done with before the season starts, so I can focus on basketball," Chukwu said at the ceremony in the school's guidance office. "Obviously it's a growing program.
"I'm a shot blocker and I can rebound. My offense is a work in progress."
Chukwu's abilities helped him garner many postseason honors after the Jesuits finished as runners-up to Hillhouse in Class LL last winter. He was named All-State and All-SCC (Quinnipiac Division) as well as a Hearst Super 12 Boys Basketball All-Star. Chukwu, who played sparingly at Trinity Catholic, averaged 13.7 points per game last season for Prep and added 12.1 rebounds and 6.8 blocks per game.
"He worked religiously on getting stronger," John Featherstone said, "working out four times a week. And he's worked equally as hard on his academics, if not harder." Chukwu was 7-0 and 188 pounds when he came to live with the Featherstones in 2010.
Bowtell had considered Georgia and LSU before ultimately choosing Virginia. "I'm really excited about (competing in) the ACC," he said. "It's a great conference to be in. They have a lot of great divers and good teams."
Prep diving coach Jeanine Oburchay is impressed with Bowtell's work ethic and attitude. "He never lets any fear stop him from doing any difficult dives," she said. "He does do a lot of higher-difficulty dives. He does them with courage and determination. Any team would be lucky to have him. "
Bowtell, who is considering a major in business or finance, says it's unfortunate he cannot compete this season for Prep.
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