|Catching up with Champ Oguchi|
|Written by Emily Warner, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:17|
Former Redbird basketball star heads to the Olympics on team Nigeria
LeBron James may be an NBA champion, but when it comes to the London Olympics, he will be sharing the court with a different “Champ”.
Former ISU men’s basketball player Champ Oguchi will represent Nigeria in the London Games that start July 27. Nigeria was the last men’s basketball team to qualify after defeating the Dominican Republic, 88-73, in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela on July 8.
“I’ve been playing for the Nigerian national team since I was 19-years-old, so I’ve been a part of this team and a part of this organization for quite some time now, but we’ve never accomplished anything like this,” Oguchi said. “It is just a great experience to be able to [qualify] with this team, especially after seven or eight years.”
Oguchi played for ISU in the 2008–09 season after sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations following three seasons on Oregon’s team. The 6’6” guard averaged 15.2 points in his season for the Redbirds.
Following his college career, Oguchi has played for different teams throughout the world.
“I played my rookie season in France, and from there I’ve been playing in various countries internationally, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Oguchi said. “I’ve really enjoyed my experience of traveling the world and learning about different cultures and also seeing what the basketball aspect has to offer in various countries.”
Oguchi is the first male ISU player to appear on an Olympic basketball court since current Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins, the namesake of the court in Redbird Arena, brought home a silver medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
“That’s great company if you ask me. I’m really happy just to be mentioned in the same category as Doug Collins,” Oguchi said. “He’s an ISU great — terrific coach, terrific player … Like Doug Collins has been doing, I hope to make ISU proud.”
Along with giving Redbirds something to brag about, he also hopes to stay in contact with his fans and the ISU community while at the Games through his Twitter account that is under his name.
Although this is Nigeria’s first time competing in the Olympics in basketball, the team is not just going for the experience — it is looking to win, regardless of which “Dream Team” it is facing on the court.
“We feel like we can compete with a lot of the top teams in the world and we proved that in Venezuela by knocking off some of the top teams,” Oguchi said. “If we don’t place, it will probably be a disappointment to us. We’re going there not just to compete, we’re going there to play. We want to come home with a medal. That’s our goal.”
En route to a medal, Oguchi and his team will face off against some stiff competition in its pool, Group A, that includes games against Argentina, France, Tunisia, Lithuania and team USA, which is a match up that Oguchi is highly anticipating.
“Watching those guys on a nightly basis in the NBA, that game, to me, is going to really mean more than the rest of the games, especially because these are some of the best players in the world,” Oguchi said. “I idolize some of those guys, but of course when it comes to the floor, those guys are going to mean nothing to me when I’m in front of them.
“But, before and after the game, I’m really going to cherish those moments that I was able to be on the floor with guys like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul — it will be an awesome experience.”