First-year Dalhousie University men’s basketball player Xavier Ochu has taken the AUS by storm.
Since joining the team over the winter break, the 6’1 guard has averaged 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and two assists per game. Those numbers are impressive considering Ochu didn’t have a long pre-season and training camp in September and October like most rookies have in order to adjust to the league.
“I knew he was an extremely talented player but what I am surprised with is how quickly he has learned some of our offenses,” said Head Coach, Rick Plato. “He made very effective adjustment and transition to becoming a meaningful contributor on this team.”
Ochu wanted to try to play university basketball in the United States. He couldn’t get a NCAA division 1 scholarship so he went to the College of Central Florida in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Ochu didn’t feel it was a good fit.
“On a team, you can just feel if there is a click and I really didn’t feel that click over there,” said Ochu.
Ochu’s next option was to come back to Canada and join good friend Jordan Brathwaite and the Dal Tigers. Ochu says the Tigers have been recruiting him since grade 12 and he wanted to come here due to Dal’s good reputation both in basketball and academics, and because Dal was one of the most interested teams in him.
Plato explains why
“I first saw Xavier two or three years ago when I went on a recruiting trip to Toronto,” said Plato. “He and Jordan Brathwaite were a backcourt (of Bishop Reading High School) and it was almost like when I saw them I said ‘there’s the backcourt of the future for us in those two guys’” he says, “the more that I saw them I was convinced that they are the type of strong, athletic players that we need in order to compete for championships.”
Ochu joined the Tigers for their exhibition winter break tournament. He did not play well in his first game, which wasn’t a surprise. He didn’t play in Central Florida in order to be eligible to play at Dalhousie this year, so that was Ochu’s first game in months.
He scored 19 points in the Tigers’ next game and got nine points and 15 rebounds in the championship game against St. Francis Xavier University, winning player of the game.
“I was kind of surprised it only took me one game to get adjusted,” said Ochu. “But getting rebounds and getting to the basket has always been my game, so it didn’t really surprise me that I was doing the things I have been doing for my whole life.”
Having high school friend Jordan Brathwaite on the team helped Ochu to get adjusted quickly.
“The first week or so he really showed me around. Showed me the team’s routines, our schedules and really helped me out with the plays and even now if I have a question he’ll help. It’s good having a friend that you’re close with here because it is easier to communicate with them,” said Ochu.
Ochu said he had to get adjusted to the speed of the game and the strength and aggressiveness of opponents. He is now feeling fairly comfortable. He still wants to work on his decision-making when he gets to the basket and perfecting the plays because as a point guard he needs to know where everyone is going to be.
High praise for Ochu
“He’s a very mature, kind of ahead of his time type of kid. He’s a very thoughtful, organized, methodical type of guy and he’s very serious in approach to just about everything,” says Plato. “By the time he’s finished, I have a funny feeling the same way people know the names of Ritchie Kanza Mata and Kashrell Lawrence, they’re going to know the name of Xavier Ochu too.”