ATHENS — Derek Ogbeide is listed as being from Atlanta. That’s only because Georgia didn’t have room to list all the places that fit the category “hometown” for the freshman basketball player.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ogbeide—pronounced Aahg-BAY-DAY— moved to London, then Sweden, Maryland, back to Nigeria, again to Maryland and Canada before his two years at Pebblebrook High School in Cobb County.
“Everywhere I go to is home automatically,” Ogbeide said. “When it comes down to it, I love London so much I might say London but everywhere I’ve been to is really home to me.”
After 18 years of moving around the globe, Ogbeide committed to the college just under two hours away from where he graduated high school and where he felt his decision to be a Bulldog was “somewhat meant to be.” Beyond the gut feeling, Ogbeide felt Georgia was a good fit for him based on what he could offer the team and vice versa.
His travel allowed Ogbeide to experience all types of basketball and languages, as he said he speaks five or six. But the non-stationary upbringing also gave him a different perspective on the chance to play at Georgia.
“It gave me a different mindset than most kids my age would actually have,” Ogbeide said. “It’s crazy. Actually. None of this was intentional. I didn’t plan on come here. I didn’t play basketball at a high level.”
Ogbeide split his high school career between Toronto, Canada and Atlanta. He was recruited to Georgia as three-star center and, along with freshman Mike Edwards, will be looked at contribute in the front court to replace recent graduates Marcus Thorton, who led the team in scoring last season, and Nemanja Djurisic, who led the team in rebounding.
“I think the advantage Derek and Mike both have up front is that they’re different than a lot of young big guys,” coach Mark Fox said. “Physically, they’re specimens. They’re athletic they’re strong. They can run. Derek certainly is a guy that’s excited about the opportunity to come in and compete up front and he’s had a lot of bright moments but like any freshman he’s going to have some times where you think he’s keeping the other team in the game.
The 6-foot-8 post player said his “defensive prowess” will be his biggest contribution to the team.
Ogbeide was the third signee for Georgia’s 2015 class. Will “Turtle” Jackson signed with Georgia after flipping his commitment from Connecticut shortly before Ogbeide’s decision.
Growing up, Ogbeide said that the most difficult part about moving from place to place was finding a connection with those around him. With similar interests and mature mindsets, Ogbeide found that relationship in Athens with Jackson.
“I connected with a lot of the players individually, but the person I really connected with the best was another freshman, Will Jackson, ‘Turtle,’” Ogbeide said. “We ramble back and forth all the time. We talk like we’re children. It’s great to have him around.”
When asked about the meaning of his last name Ogbeide laughed. He said his teammate Osahen Iduwe knew it, but he couldn’t remember.
“It’s something great,” Ogbeide said. “I promise it’s something amazing.”