Redden Court’s Ogoro shooting for hoops, stars – and stripes
PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 October 2015
Basketball hopeful dreaming of Big Apple
Daniel Ogoro is a determined young sportsman, dreaming of making it to the very top in basketball.
The 15-year-old Redden Court pupil has already represented his country and hopes to start a new prep school in the United States next autumn, as a stepping stone towards playing college hoops and, ultimately, in the NBA.
And judging by his positive attitude and willingness to work hard, whose to say he will not achieve his sporting dream.
Born in the UK, Ogoro spent eight years of his childhood in his mother’s native Belgium, where he was bitten by the basketball bug for the first time.
He said: “I was 11, bored at home one day, and my dad said why didn’t I go and try basketball. My brother Christian was playing it, while I was playing football.
“But I tried it out and did well and felt I should have done this the whole time.
“I was new to the team, which was a fairly new team anyway, but when I had to decide what to play I picked basketball as I’d had some success in a short of amount of time.”
Ogoro joined Redden Court midway through year eight and was surprised by the support given to sporty pupils, quickly settling in and helping their basketball team to success.
He added: “I never expected how they treat pupils here. I had to get used to everything, but it was a good fit and everyone was friendly.
“They had won the Havering Cup in year seven already, so had already had success and I just added to it and we won in year eight, nine and ten, and the year 11 tournament while still year 10s.
“If I want to make it they will give me what I need.”
Ogoro’s form on the court saw him attend a lengthy series of Essex trials, then progress to East region honours, before he got a call to try out for the national team. “I went to an under-15 camp when still 14, but was then cut from the last camp. I was really down, but said to myself this is the last time I’m getting cut,” he said.
“I worked hard with my coach (Joe Davids) and was picked to play in a 3-on-3 competition in Italy when I didn’t expect it. Then I was MVP on my England under-15 debut when I scored about 30 points against Wales.
“We went to Copenhagen for a development squad trip, ahead of the under-16 Europeans, and on the plane back my under-15 coach said I had progressed a lot and was ready for a bigger challenge and was going to be sent to the under-16 team.
“Only two from my age group made it and Kareem Queely, one of my best friends who plays for Read Madrid basketball made the team two years young. I did well and the coach was impressed.”
Ogoro went on trips to Finland, France and Slovakia, with England securing a morale-boosting win in their final match, before the 12-strong squad for the European Under-16 Championships in Lithuania was announced.
And he was delighted to make the cut this time, with the English players making an impression in Kaunas. He said: “We shocked some people. We lost to Germany, but it was close (61-56) and everyone was saying ‘who are these English boys?’
“Everyone thinks England is a Division B nation as we’ve never retained our Division A place, but if we’d won that match we wouldn’t have ended up in so much trouble.
“We gave Lithuania a really tough first half and people were saying it was the first time their team, who are being called their golden generation, had been tested in a long time.
“The Latvia game was key. We lost by one point with about 20 seconds left and were so angry. People were crying.
“Then we were 25 points down against Israel, but we came back and won. We had unbelievable spirit. That set up a decider with Greece, who we had beaten in our group, but we lost badly. Our main player was ill and another had gone off to America. It was a crazy experience and I want to get us back up to Division A next year. We need to get back up.”
For now, Ogoro is focusing on his studies and getting himself in the best shape possible to have a good season with his new club Chelmsford, before next summer’s European Championships.
He got his Maths GCSE a year early, with an A* grade, and also achieved As in Science and ICT.
“Mr Davids told me to be a student-athlete and take my schoolwork more seriously, because student comes first. I can’t play basketball forever and will need some education.
“I’m trying to be more healthy, no more sugar and more protein, and it’s been quite difficult, but I’ve already felt the benefit.
“I have basketball sessions three mornings a week, gym sessions on two mornings, and then gym, plyometrics and basketball after school, with games on Saturday and yoga on Sunday. I’ll have fond memories of Redden Court, especially our series against St Edwards. I hit a three to go to OT and then we won it 12-0. They were always intense games and it was great to do the ‘five-peat’.
“I’ve got good friends at Redden Court, but I can’t go to parties. I have to make sacrifices, but hope I will benefit in future.
Ogoro, who stands six foot three inches tall and has size 11.5 feet, has already been to the States to look at schools and interviewed with Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, which might end up being his next port of call.
And when asked what his ultimate dream is, he says: “The aim is the NBA, but every player says that!
“In five years time, hopefully I’ll be playing NCAA Division One college and in ten years in the NBA. Given the choice I’d love to sign for the New York Knicks and play at Madison Square Gardens. But really I wouldn’t mind which NBA team drafted me!”
It’s wonderful to see a youngster having such lofty ambition and Ogoro is under no illusions about what it will take to achieve his goals.
Primarily a point guard or shooting guard, a player who controls a team, is their leader and main voice on the court, running plays, organising and taking on a lot of scoring responsibility, Ogoro knows he is not yet the full package, adding: “I can’t jump high enough and have been working all summer on that and I need to get stronger, which is why I work at the gym.
“But I’m a good playmaker, natural scorer and great at one-on-ones. I’ve got a high basketball IQ and good handling skills and I’m a pretty good shooter.
“I hit two game-winning baskets against St Edwards so they might say I’m a ‘clutch’ player.”
There have been a few of those down the years and Ogoro wants to learn from the greats as he looks to join their ranks.
“I look up to players like Kobe Bryant, for his work-rate, and Kevin Durant, Michael Jordan. All great players really, to see what they’re good at and build a strong foundation myself.
“They say hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. Mr Davids has helped me 100 per cent and I have to thank my parents and brother. You have to believe and have hope in things and be grateful.”