From Nigeria to Canada to the United States, Fope Okuyiga keeps his eye set on giving back to the community through basketball. Okuyiga rose to the limelight after he left Canada for the US to fast-track his basketball dreams.
After moving to the US, he started playing as a freshman for the Roberts Redhawks. During his time as a Redhawk, he appeared in 28 games for the 2018-2019 season.
Okuyiga showed excellent skills and sportsmanship, which earned him a place as the starting forward for the team. After much show of exceptional superiority, he and another teammate were acknowledged with the United States Basketball Writers Association award for the Rochester Area NCAA division. He was titled with men’s freshman of the year for the Rochester chapter. He averaged 8.2 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Okuyiga is currently playing for Salem University’s basketball team. His passion for basketball started when he was 14 years old in Nigeria before moving to Canada. He watched his role models like Kobe Bryant, Stephy Curry, and Micheal Jordan on the court and drew a lot of inspiration from them.
“My role models and favorite players of all time are Micheal Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Stephen Curry. Micheal, because he was the name I always heard as a kid, I saw every highlight of his dunks, and I “wanted to be like Mike.” Kobe, because he showed it was possible to “be like Mike.” Their games were similar, and Kobe also embodied hard work and a tough mindset, popularly known as the “Mamba Mentality.” Steph, because he changed the game. “3-pointers make the majority of the highlight plays in the game today, and Steph is a significant reason for that. He made the game what it is considered today,” remarks Okuyiga.
Injuries to his hip and back caused him to miss over a year of basketball. It was a harrowing experience for him as he got his sense of fulfillment from playing basketball. His long time out made him realize that he needed a stable mindset and soul to make a purposeful comeback. While he was out, he took his time to share his knowledge about the sport with several youths across Canada.
The player’s time off allowed him to resonate with his thoughts. After short visits to Nigeria, he decided that in the long run of his basketball career, he would inspire kids with a passion for basketball. Coming from a humble home, he knew what it meant to struggle to attain one’s dream.
“Giving back to the basketball world is one of my major goals. Either through being professional and inspiring others or setting up camps and clinics for kids, providing help with coaching, and teaching people the game. I love basketball, and basketball has done a lot and played a major role in my life, so I will give back any way I can and for as long as I can,” says Okuyiga.
Okuyiga believes that he has a lot of work to put in as one of his dreams is signing a deal with the Australian NBL and, say, the NBA. He’s an advocate of progress, and every stage defines his next step.
“I hope to land a deal to play in the top leagues overseas, such as the Australian NBL, Euro League, and maybe one day the NBA,” adds Okuyiga.
With his proven and evident hard work and determination, Fope Okuyiga is sure to become a rising star in the NBA. Slowly but surely, Okuyiga is set on making basketball history; remember his name.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.