November 1, 2014

Wu joins Hornets nest

Kevin McCarthy

So you want to land a college basketball scholarship and just to be in the running for one will require enormous and continuous effort while also living 6,500 miles away from home for a number of years. How many teenagers would be up for that special challenge? Modesto Christian High senior guard Jeff Wu, for one.

photo of Jeff Wu

Ranked No. 21 in the NorCal Preps 2015 Top 40, the 6-foot-1 Wu's recent earning of a Division I college basketball scholarship from Sacramento State breaks new ground as it's a feat no other of his fellow Taiwanese prep roundballers have been able to achieve.

After being named the Most Valuable Player while leading his junior high team to a secondary school championship in Taiwan, Wu journeyed to Vancouver, Washington as a 15-year-old. He played basketball at Union High while residing with a host family. The better competition would be challenging but that's exactly what was needed.

After a year, he made the move to Modesto Christian High, again living with a host family and playing for former Cal guard Richard Midgley, himself a former Crusader and a native of England. Wu earned Trans Valley League Honorable Mention honors as a junior last season.

In the 2014 NorCal Summer Tipoff event, Wu's official skill analysis was “really smart guard, good quickness, crafty, really good passer, smooth and knows how to play, good shooter from mid range and 3.”

Those bundle of talents did the trick.

So why the Hornets? “They recruited me the hardest,” Wu recalled, “starting back in the beginning of July.” Sacramento State Coach Brian Katz himself was primarily involved. About the pursuit of Wu, Midgley added, “Sacramento State and Eastern Washington both did a great job recruiting him.”

As Wu explained, “there are two sports in Taiwan, basketball and baseball.” He went with the former even though it was a struggle of sorts at first. “My biggest [basketball] influence was my junior high school coach. I wasn't that good and he taught me about both basketball and outside basketball.”

Asked what are his best basketball skills, Wu offered, “My shot and my first step.” Midgley elaborated with, “He shoots the ball so well and has an incredible first step. He's a humble kid and a very high level player. He goes about his business in a quiet way and you end up rooting for him.”

Wu has also beefed up. According to Midgley, “he has put on 15 pounds of muscle and he and Christian Ellis (another Modesto Christian guard) really battle.”

Maybe, just maybe, this trailblazing accomplishment will begin a Taiwanese groundswell of Wu-sanity.