Danny Ogele, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound junior forward from Mercyhurst, transferred to Minnesota Friday
GopherHole caught up with Ogele Monday to learn more about his decision and upcoming season.
GopherHole: You committed to Minnesota Friday as a transfer. What were the reasons that you decided that Minnesota was where you wanted to play college basketball?
Danny Ogele: To be honest, it was really the coaching staff. The coaching staff really expressed their interest in me, even though the players they have can come in and win some games. Having the opportunity to play Big Time basketball, those things really played a huge role into my decision.
GopherHole: How many years of eligibility will you have then?
Danny Ogele: Two. They ruled that the COVID wouldn’t count and I was able to get my medical redshirt year back, too. I sat out 2019-20 season, so I can get that year back as well.
GopherHole: What other schools were you hearing from besides Minnesota?
Danny Ogele: A lot of low major and mid major schools reached out, like Indiana State, UIC, North Texas, Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois. There were a couple of high-level Division III programs, like Lincoln Memorial. Schools like that reached out. I just waited on my opportunity when it came and presented itself.
GopherHole: How did Minnesota find out about you?
Danny Ogele: Coach Jenkins reached out to me and said that he and the staff spent a lot of time watching my film, dissecting it, making a couple of calls. Doing their research on me. That is how it came about.
GopherHole: Have you ever been to Minnesota?
Danny Ogele: I have. It is a great state. I am coming up this week and getting things rolling. Back in my AAU days, there was a pretty big tournament, one of the NY2LA tournaments, which we used to go to. I’ve been to the Mall of America, too.
GopherHole: I don’t know how much you know about the team and the roster, but to be honest, they have a lot of new faces, including yourself. They had a head coaching change and had only one returning player and unfortunately, he got hurt last week. They have some other transfers, including a really good Division II transfer, but he got hurt and is going to be out for the year, so a lot of new faces. Are you thinking that this is a good situation since there aren’t any old players and no one has gotten ahead of anyone and you are all on the same level playing field? Is that something that appeals to you?
Danny Ogele: Oh, yes sir. Coach Johnson talked a lot about that. Coming in and just competiting. He doesn’t care who you are, really. He just wants you to come in and compete and help your team win in any aspect. That is just what I am here to do is to help the team win games.
GopherHole: For Gopher fans who haven’t seen a lot of you, how would
Danny Ogele: As a player, I’m a pretty physical player. I’ll attack the basket. Knock down open shots. Rebound. I just like to do a lot of things that will help a team win. A lot of little things.
GopherHole: If I had told you two years ago that you would be playing in the Big Ten, what would you have thought?
Danny Ogele: I probably would have laughed and I probably would have said “Let’s get to work.”
GopherHole: How has the last year plus been dealing with COVID and not playing a full schedule at Mercyhurst?
Danny Ogele: It was interesting. Playing without fans was kind of different, but my team at Mercyhurst U was awesome. My coach, Coach Manchel, just finished his 18th year up there and he said our group of guys was probably the best group of guys he has had in his time there. We finished third in the country before the NCAA Tournament. We had a great group of guys. We were a big family. Those were my brothers. It was a pretty good experience playing with those guys.
GopherHole: Was it hard to leave there or was there a reason that you thought that now with the extra year of eligibility that you put your name into the transfer portal?
Danny Ogele: Yes. I would say that there are also things in regards to my future endeavors. I want to take advantage of my extra year of eligibility. I’m going to be playing and get my Master’s in what I want to study. I want to pursue my dream of playing basketball after college and I thought that I needed to go somewhere else to get those things done.
GopherHole: What are you going to try to get your Master’s in here at the “U?”
Danny Ogele: I actually have my interview in a couple of hours for a Masters of Science in security technologies, similar to when I did my Bachelor’s in Cyber Security.
GopherHole: What is it going to mean to walk on that court your first game at Williams Arena as a Division I and Big Ten player?
Danny Ogele: I would say to me, it is going to mean a lot. All the people who helped me to get me to where I am today. It’s all for them. My parents, all the sacrifices that they made for me to be able to play basketball. To play for them, my family, My friends, my coaches. They mean a lot. It is just a blessing to compete at that high level.
GopherHole: Do you watch a lot of college or pro basketball?
Danny Ogele: Yes, sir, I do. My favorite player is LeBron. I’m a big LeBron fan. I like watching him and his game. I’m also a pretty big Paul George fan as well. I like watching his game. How smooth he is. How he affects the game, offensively and defensively. I like watching those guys play.
GopherHole: Have you heard from any of the future teammates since you committed, like on social media?
Danny Ogele: A couple of guys reached out. Parker (Fox), E.J. (Stephens), Luke (Loewe) and a couple more guys reached out on social media. Interacting with me and checking up with me. It was great. It just goes to show what kind of guys they are. Good guys just trying to make sure everyone is on the same page. It was definitely comforting.
GopherHole: You are 6-7. Do you see you yourself as a 3 or a 3/4?
Danny Ogele: I can play that 3-4 role. In today’s game, I would say those two positions are kind of similar, honestly. Everyone is on the perimeter now, so that 3-4, that stretch 4, I’m pretty sure I can play it.
GopherHole: I have to ask you this for Gopher fans, but how are you as a shooter? I don’t know how much you know about Minnesota, but last year, they ranked as one of the teams who shot the most threes, but they had one of the worst shooting percentages. They shot a lot of threes, but they didn’t make a lot, so how would you describe yourself as a three-point shooter?
Danny Ogele: I’m pretty comfortable three-point shooter. I spent my whole college career, working on that. I came in my freshman year at Navy, shooting pretty poorly from the three, but I spent a lot of time, working on my three-point shooting. This past year, I shot really well from three. I have been in the gym this summer with my trainer, trying to get that shot consistent and just working on that.
GopherHole: Gopher fans will be excited to hear about that. You started your career at Navy. What was the Navy experience like because it’s not like the typical college?
Danny Ogele: It was definitely a different experience. Every day, we had some kind of challenge thrown our way and we just had to push through and figure out a way to overcome. I think that a lot of those situations and scenarios I was put through at the Academy helped shape me to what I am today.
GopherHole: You were only there for two years, but do you think that helped you mature as well?
Danny Ogele: Most definitely. The program at the Academy is designed, so that when these men and women come out, they are the future leaders of today and sailors and Marines. I definitely had to grow up quickly when I got there.
GopherHole: You mentioned the Cyber Security. What would you like to do after your basketball playing days are done?
Danny Ogele: I was thinking about starting my own company or going in to Data Analytics or Security Analytics.
GopherHole: What things are you really trying to work on this summer to continue to improve yourself as a player?
Danny Ogele: Working a lot on my pace. Slow and fast pace. My jump shot. My ballhandling. Those are two things that my trainer is really focusing on emphasizing this summer. Being more comfortable with the ball in my hands and making decisions.
GopherHole: Things have changed with the Name, Image and Likeness being introduced. Is that something that you have looked into at all?
Danny Ogele: Yes, sir. A couple of people have reached out to me. I haven’t made any hard decisions on that yet.