Villanova's Daniel Ochefu pinch-hits as sports anchor

On Friday afternoon, Daniel Ochefu graduated from Villanova University.

A few hours later, he went to work.

Well, sort of.

The Wildcats big man served as a pinch-hit sports anchor for the CBS affiliates, sliding in for regular sports guy Gary Bell on the 11 p.m. telecast.

“I loved it," said Ochefu, who graduated with a communications minor. “It wasn’t hard at all. I can speak well. I can read well and Coach [Jay] Wright gives us a lot of opportunities to speak, so I was really comfortable."

Early Friday morning, CBS3 executive producer Paul Pozniak emailed Villanova sports information director Michael Sheridan, asking if one of his players might one to serve as guest sportscaster that night. Sheridan reached out to Wright, who immediately thought of Ochefu, a natural and gifted public speaker.

Despite the hectic day, Ochefu didn’t hesitate. At 4 p.m., he walked with his fellow Villanova seniors for graduation. The ceremony ended around 7 p.m., allowing Ochefu some time to ‘chill’ with his family.

Later that night, at around 9, he was in studio, getting to know the teleprompter.

“That was the only hard part," he said. “I messed up a few times when I was practicing, but then I got in the groove. It was 3-2-1, and we started rolling. I wasn’t even nervous."

Ochefu offered two news hits on the Eagles and Phillies (he’s an Orioles and Ravens fan, so no conflict of interest) before talking Villanova basketball, academics and the draft on set.

Ochefu said he wouldn’t mind a broadcasting career down the road but for now he has other things to worry about. On Monday morning he flew to Santa Barbara, where he’s preparing for the upcoming NBA draft. He has workouts scheduled with six teams, he said.

And sometime soon – perhaps before the end of the month – the national champion Wildcats will head to the White House to meet with President Obama.

“Yeah, I sort of like this lifestyle," Ochefu said with a laugh.