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Ogoro ready to get his kicks with Penguins

Daniel Ogoro had his view of last year’s 18-15 season of the Youngstown State University men’s basketball team.

He spent practices working on his shooting technique, defense and other facets of the game.

Ogoro, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound redshirt freshman, knew he could contribute to what the Penguins produce on the 94-foot hardwood floor.

This year, the basketball player from London, England, wants to be part of YSU’s success on the court.

That path would’ve started in the spring, weeks after the Penguins season ended.

Things changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ogoro headed back to England, just as collegiate players around the United States headed home.

Daniel was under quarantine for the first two weeks he was back in England.

Eventually, he was allowed to leave his house — doing push-ups and pull-ups in the meanwhile to stay in shape.

Daniel connected with other England-born athletes playing basketball in America. They met at a park near his family.

“We found a group chat and found the closest outdoor court to play against each other for better competition instead of playing against some random strangers,” he said.

Ogoro saw the return of Premier League soccer. He couldn’t be more thrilled to see the game he loves.

Without fans, it was different.

“I feel fans make it a whole different game,” said Ogoro, who is a fan of Manchester United. “The game is so beautiful, but it’s kind of different.”

Playing the beautiful game is part of his life, being a left wing or striker. His actual position is defensive mid field.

He has great foot skills, which translates to basketball.

“I’ve had a couple trainers over the years and they said my footwork is always very good,” Ogoro said. “I’m used to working with my feet a lot. You need footwork for different kinds of layups. I think it helps me. It made things much easier for me.”

YSU men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun has two young daughters playing youth soccer. He’s become acclimated to the game.

Calhoun sees how Ogoro’s foot skill helps him to become a better basketball player.

“He moves laterally really well,” Calhoun said. “His coordination is really, really good. In his country, soccer is the most popular sport. He’s played it for a very long time and it correlates to basketball. I think it’s one of those sports if you play at a young age, it’ll help you with your conditioning, your feet, with your ability to change direction. Soccer is all about changing direction. He’s really, really good at that stuff.”

Calhoun said Ogoro has unbelievable qualities – intelligence, long arms. That wingspan can get in and disrupt passing lanes.

Ogoro has the ability to bother smaller guards.

“He’s not your typical mid-major point guard with the size,” Calhoun said. “You don’t see a lot mid-major point guard at 6-5 and that wingspan. He’s been a joy to coach. I only think he’s going to get better. The redshirt year was really important to get better, understand the American game, how hard you have to play, how fast the game is. I think it was beneficial to him. Now he knows our system I think he’ll benefit from that as well.”

Ogoro knows defense is a sure way to find plenty of playing time this season. He wants to be one of the best defenders on the team. The YSU redshirt freshman is working with senior Garrett Covington, who was named to the Horizon League All-Defensive team the past two seasons.

“Defense is all about angles and heart, how hard you’re willing to work,” Ogoro said. “I feel I have the heart for it. I have to be smart in some of the angles I close out for example when I cut my defender off.”

Calhoun said Ogoro wants to be a great player, studies the game. His maturity puts the YSU redshirt freshman guard in a great place.

“He puts in the time,” Calhoun said. “Some players say they want to be great, but their work habits don’t match up with their goals. I think Daniel exemplifies what a college athlete should be. He’s a tremendous, tremendous student. He’s almost a 4.0 GPA. He’s a really bright kid with a bright future.”

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