Thu Jan 20 04:33pm EST
In July, Sean Obi was sequestered in a north Nigerian school, trying to focus on academics and funnel his raw athleticism into more refined basketball talent. Less than six months later, he finds himself trudging through snow in Fairfield County, Connecticut, heading to and from games where he's increasingly targeted by Division I basketball scouts, who look on in amazement as he overwhelms nearly every opponent who has the misfortune of ending up in his path.
According to the Connecticut Post, the road that landed Obi -- who wears No. 34 in the video above -- at Greens Farms (Conn.) Academy, in Westport, is a unique one. The 6-foot-9 sophomore power forward was noticed in Nigeria by a Nigerian businessman in Texas, who had become friends with an oil trader in Greenwich who previously had befriended the Texas businessman on prior trips to Africa.
That oil trader, Steve Eggers, happened to be the father of Greens Farms player Hunter Eggers, giving him connections with the school's athletic department, and particularly the basketball team. Knowing that the school was in the process of trying to increase its international diversity, Eggers reached out and offered to take guardianship of the sophomore if he was interested in coming to America.
Obi and his family decided the offer was a generous one and jumped on board. The rest, as they say, is history, one which is rapidly getting more notice around the northeast. Through nine games, Obi has averaged nearly 24 points and 20 rebounds per game, all while holding down exemplary grades at GFA, one of the state's most challenging academic prep schools. The dueling impressive statistics have made the tiny gyms GFA typically plays in frequent destinations for Ivy League scouts from programs like Harvard and Columbia.
"Basically when I came here, I never looked at all that stuff," Obi told the Post about the recruiting process. "I came here to play basketball and whatever takes place in the next stage is left to God."
The sophomore, who is typically described as quiet and thoughtful, spends most of his free time studying or Skyping with his family back in Nigeria. While there is little question that his talent will carry him to the next level, his adoptive family and coach have been quick to limit his exposure, for fear of jolting his gradual acclimation process, which all said has been smooth for the relatively fluent English speaker.
"We kind of kept him under wraps and only put him in one college exposure camp back in the fall, and the Eggers literally almost had to change their phone number," [first-year GFA coach Doug] Scott said.
Yet, when the attention does come, few have concerns that Obi will take it all in stride.
"I always watched (American) movies," Obi told the Post. "I knew it was filled with opportunities both for sports and academics. I knew it's all about being hard-working and doing what's best."
His new American parents insist Obi is already doing that every day.
"This kid, you'll never meet anyone that works harder at anything," Steve Eggers told the Post. "He's not a one-dimensional kid."