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Emmanuel Ogbole discusses joining Rutgers basketball



Photo credit Rutgers Athletics

Rutgers men’s basketball announced the signing of JUCO big man Emmanuel Ogbole on Monday. In introducing Ogbole, Rutgers basketball’s communications head Chris Corso spoke at length with the 6’10” transfer about his decision.

Despite only beginning his hoops journey at 18 years old in Nigeria, he made a big impact in his one season for Monroe College. On his rapid development from having never played before to now playing in the Big Ten, Ogbole explained the process has been a whirlwind.

“It all happened so fast,” Ogbole told Corso. “When I first started training, I didn’t even understand the game yet. When I started playing some games, I realized I was capable of big things. Even though I am new to the game of basketball I have great things I want to achieve. I realized it was going to take hard work to live up to the expectations of all the coaches who were recruiting me.”

One aspect in joining the program that will help Ogbole acclimate is playing with fellow Nigerian Cliff Omoruyi, the most important player in the program. The newest Scarlet Knight is now poised to play behind next season. He is excited about that opportunity.

“It’s going to be great, and I really want to get better having him there,” Ogbole said. “With how well he has impacted the game of basketball he has set the standard. It’s going to be great competition in practice playing against each other and us all trying to make each other better. Having two Nigerians on the team I know the bonding will be great, our charisma, don’t you worry you’ll see what’s going to happen!”

In regard to ultimately deciding to sign with the program, Ogbole explained it was multiple reasons.

“I chose Rutgers because Coach Pikiell came to see me train and came in person last season,” Ogbole said. “When he invited me to my first visit in January, I saw how great the facilities were. I saw how great the coaching staff was, and how hard the players were working. I saw the bond and chemistry between everyone there. This is a family and it’s nice to say I am joining them.”

Addressing frontcourt depth was a must for Pikiell and the staff. Ogbole played in 24 games last season for Monroe College. He averaged 12.3 points while shooting 69.3% from the floor. He also grabbed 8.2 rebounds and swatted 2.1 blocks per contest. Monroe went 29-5 last season and Ogbole was second in scoring while leading them on the boards and with block shots.

”His stature alone is going to provide a lot of things for Rutgers defensively,” Monroe College head coach Jeff Brustad said. “He’s physical and he can run the floor north-to-south. He’s a great athlete that is improving in all areas. Especially, offensively. He’s got a great work ethic so I’m sure that Rutgers is going to take him to the next level. The Big Ten is a physical conference and I think that plays into his hands a little bit. Experience is going to key for him at the next level.”

Ogbole took an official visit to Rutgers on June 2, but first visited for the program’s 64-50 win over Maryland last January. The game made a very positive impression.

“I saw the chemistry team the had. Especially the players who weren’t playing on the bench. I really liked the fans, and they made me feel that it was such a lovely place,” Ogbole said. “I loved seeing Rutgers Nation on that day and they made me realize I want to make history when I am there.”

Many Rutgers players in recent years have stressed the family environment that the coaching staff has created and nurtured. The strong culture that exists within the program was clear for Ogbole to see during the recruitment process.

“The second time I came to campus I had dinner with Coach Pikiell and the entire coaching staff,” Ogbole said. “I met with all the staff, the academic advisor, I met with everyone. I felt that instant connection with them (and) I knew it would be a great choice to join this family at Rutgers.”

With three years of eligibility, Ogbole has the opportunity to grow into a beloved member of the Rutgers basketball family. He is strong with a wide frame, knows how to use his body, and is physically ready for the Big Ten right away. He is a physical player who willingly defends and rebounds. Ogbole has good mobility for a big man and is super athletic. He has the chance to flourish in space and in transition.

Corso asked Ogbole what fans should expect from him during his Rutgers career. The big man didn’t hold back.

“The fans are going to get agility, athleticism, energy and you are going to see team spirit. The passion and love of basketball is very important to me. Most great basketball players need to have that passion. When you have a love of the game, everything happens naturally. I love blocking shots and rebounding. My priority is my defense. After that, the scoring will come naturally.”

Ogbole’s journey, not only in basketball but in coming to America, is something that has shaped him in a positive way. His maturity and focus seem on point as he prepares to become a key contributor in his Rutgers career. If he can provide quality minutes off the bench next season, Ogbole have an immediate impact, he’ll be poised for even more success moving forward.

Watch highlights of Ogbole from last season at Monroe below.

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  1. BataliBoli98

    June 12, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    Great coverage of this key pickup. At the very least Emmanuel will provide a physical presence in the middle and protect the rim. At best, he will have a few double-doubles in him and develop some moves in the post. In the end, RU desperately needed depth in the pivot and Pikiell and his team found a legit option. Reiber and Wolf were/are 4s, Emmanuel is a legit 5. The only negative that stands out to me is his 49% at the charity stripe (48-97). Once Mag comes back into the fold it is distinctly possible that RU has a stronger front court (4s and 5s) this coming season than last. Now, let’s find two shooters. Go RU!

  2. FlaRef

    June 13, 2023 at 8:39 am

    Great get for the program! On a different topic, MD baseball coach now at Alabama. Could open the door for some transfers to the RU program, is Shaw available or is he a first round draft pick?

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