Monday, May 15, 2017

Osayande is the Positive Example

During this time within the basketball world where player movement in high school and college captures so much attention, Benson Osayande is the ultimate anachronism. His hoops résumé is one of commitment and loyalty: one high school (Franklin High), a single travel team (Team Sage), a solitary community college program (Casper College) and a sole four-year school (Montana State).
How so? Attribute this to a combination of his personal character plus the decision-making process utilized by the 6-foot-9 talent.
It all began with Team Sage out of Sacramento, a travel squad albeit with an emphasis on academics. “Coach Wornel Simpson saw me playing in a middle school tournament. We talked afterwards and just clicked. My parents loved the organization and Coach Simpson. He took care of me for four or five years.”
Here’s Benson Osayande Sr. on the Team Sage experience: “I liked the goal setting by Coach Wornel that all his scholar-athletes were expected to maintain at least a 3.30 grade average throughout the academic school year. Benson maintained 3.50 and above throughout. In addition to academics, Team Sage enhances its players’ social accountability. Team Sage provided educationa
l tools and training to its student-athletes such as tutoring, peer and professional mentoring, educational workshops and more.
This was also the time Osayande was attending Franklin High in Elk Grove and playing for Coach Jesse Formaker.
Osayande chose to attend Casper College in Wyoming, a program headed by Coach Dan Russell. “A lot of California JCs were after me but one of the coaches at Nevada knew of the program at Casper and recommended it. I took an official visit in March with my parents and made my decision to go there about a month later.”
Why the Thunderbirds? “I liked the coaches and the environment, my overall role and fit thet they had the major was looking for.”
“My wife and I went to Casper College with Benson during his official visit just to know the town, see the school, discuss with the academic advisor and meet the coaches,” Osayande Sr. recalled. “Ultimately, the decision as to where he went was his since he was the one who would have to live there for the next two years.”
Experiencing daily life similar to that of a four-year school, Osayande resided in a dorm and and was provided with three meals a day in a campus cafeteria.
One interesting element to the Casper program involved community support. “You live in the dorms but each player has a host family. You could go visit them and hang out, watch TV, play with the kids and they would also provide some meals.”
About the notorious weather (at least in winter time), he offered, “it was windy and snowed a lot but you get used to it.”
After two years at Casper College, Osayande entered the recruiting process once again. He liked the coaching staff at Montana State and eventually went with the Bobcats, a move of about 415 miles north and west to Bozeman. “They told me they would work on developing me and Coach [Chris] Haslem is 6-foot-11 with a lot of experience (13 years) playing overseas.”
This was a decision Osayande made on his own as his parents felt he was experienced enough to do so.
Again, Osayande Sr: “We had no concern about Benson being in Casper, Wyoming or Bozeman, Montana. While still in Casper College and before he told us, Benson signed with Montana State. I told Benson he is an adult so he should be making decisions for himself.”
In 31 games this season, Osayande averaged 12.9 minutes, 4.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and shot 54% overall, 71% on free throws. His boardplay broke down with 35 at the offensive end and 48 defensively. About that, he explained, “I just have a knack for the ball on the offensive end. If it’s a three-point shot, I expect a long rebound and position myself outside the key. If a shot is taken from the left side, I position myself on the right side.

What’s next for him in Bozeman? “I’m working on my game, putting on some pounds and continuing to get better.”
Osayande was one of two Montana State men’s basketball players named to Big Sky winter academic all-conference list. He is a community health major and wants to work in the health field although he isn’t sure in what endeavor as yet but he first wants to play overseas.
His recruiting advice to high school upperclassmen? “Don’t rush your decision. By your senior year, know who really is recruiting you and who wants you the most. Don’t choose the biggest name just because it’s the biggest. You want the best for you.”
Here’s Coach Haslam on the returning senior big: “Benson has been such a great addition to our program here at Montana State both on and off the court. We are excited about his improvement this year and are expecting him to have a great senior year.”

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