German-born player looks toward NBA

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Lauren Gandara

Center Isaac Okebiorun works on drills during practice. Okebiorun moved from Germany to California to pursue a basketball career.

Lauren Gandara and Lauren Gandara

Traveling from Germany to the United States in hopes of becoming a professional basketball player, Cerritos College men’s basketball center Isaac Okebiorun looks to fellow coaches and teammates to gain the experience to one day achieve his goal.

In 2003, Okebiorun was introduced to the sport when he traveled from his home in Germany to California to visit his cousins. His cousin had noticed how tall he was and told Okebiorun that he should think about playing basketball.

“I’ve gotten into basketball and I’m in love with the game and I don’t think I’m ever going to stop playing basketball.”

He came to California when he was 17 years old, so that he could grow as a basketball player. He attended Downey High School his junior and senior year and joined the basketball team in those two years.

As a senior, he was given the Most Improved Award by his basketball team and helped them in winning two San Gabriel Valley league championships as well as advancing to the California Interscholastic Federation Playoffs.

After the basketball season ended his senior year, Okebiorun joined his high school track and field team where he received both bronze and silver medals.

When it came to choosing between which sport he wanted to continue with, he said, “My main reason for coming here was basketball and my senior year I tried track and field just for the heck of it.”

He then came to Cerritos College so that he could build up on his experience.

Head Coach Russ May said about Okebiorun, “He’s a great example of a student athlete. He’s taking high-level classes, he’s coming to school to get his education first. As a basketball player, he does the things that we need his position to do which is rebound and play good post defense and he is a quick learner.”

This is Okebiorun’s first season playing for the Falcons.

When it comes to what he needs to improve on, May said, “He needs experience, he needs some game action, understanding how the flow of the game works and just what to do on the floor in certain situations, some fundamental work, some foot work and some of those things fundamentally.”

Forward Willie Edwards said about his fellow teammate, “Isaac is a nice rebounder, a shot blocker, somebody that can leap off the floor, very strong, intelligent and just an overall humble guy.”

Okebiorun also plays the keyboard in his extra time to help him relax and he is a keyboard player at Christ the Apostle Church in Inglewood where his uncle is the pastor.

Having to juggle being a student, performing for his church and playing basketball, Okebiorun said, “All in all, I thank God that I have the opportunity to be part of basketball, academics and being able to play the keyboard for the Church. It’s kind of difficult but in the end it all pays off.”

He said that if his dream of becoming a professional basketball player doesn’t work out, he is studying to become a civil engineer. If he does make it to the NBA, he said he doesn’t care what team he ends up on, as long as he gets the chance to live out his dream.

On having his family’s support, Okebiorun said, “They know that this was not an easy decision to make to just leave your family, your friends, and everything behind to push through your goal. I really hope I fulfill my dream and make my parents proud.”