Whether itâ€™s juggling a 13-month-old for a fan photo or finishing a graduate-level financial case analysis the night before boarding a plane to the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas, Andy Ogide seems to move through life effortlessly.
At the end of the day, itâ€™s simple: Teammates and coaches say Ogide will out-work you, out-hustle you and out-plan you. He doesnâ€™t let shortcomings slow him down and goes after his goals with the single-minded drive of a man who clearly knows what he wants.
His determination has exhibited itself in all phases as he has grown into the game. His talent alone made him a dominant force in middle school, but high school basketball would end that.
Joel Boone, Ogideâ€™s coach of four years at Paulding County High School in Dallas, Ga., had just taken over a broken program when Ogide came along.
The experience of starting as a freshman and competing against more experienced players made Ogide, Boone said, but a key lesson came in his junior year.
â€œAndy wasnâ€™t running the floor the way I thought he should, getting up and down, particularly on defense, so I took him out and put him on the bench for the rest of the game,â€ Boone said.
Over the next game and a half Ogide rode the bench before going to Boone to ask, â€œâ€˜Coach, am I going to play?â€™â€ Boone said.
â€œI said, â€˜Andy, you can go in right now if you want to, but hereâ€™s the rule: You canâ€™t walk. Ever. The first time youâ€™re walking, youâ€™re coming out, and I donâ€™t know when youâ€™re getting back in.â€™â€
â€œHe never walked again,â€ Boone said.
Andyâ€™s mother Patience Ogide noted the connection of his unending motion and desire to get better, characteristics that have followed him since elementary school.
â€œAndy never comes home and sits idle and watches TV,â€ she said.
Ogide finished high school with a 3.6 GPA, was named all-region Player of the Year and worked two jobs to make the payment on his car. He also went to the Mount Tabor Rec, or Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, at least a few days a week just to shoot, to practice and play.
â€œHe spent hours and hours there. Even in college, when he comes home, he never sleeps in. Heâ€™s out playing basketball. Heâ€™s consistent that way,â€ Patience said, laughing.
A team apart
Ogideâ€™s teammates say they are going to miss being around the 23-year-old on a regular basis. His humor, his friendship and his leadership, especially, have left a lasting impression.
â€œWe wonâ€™t be with each other every day, but itâ€™s been a great friendship that I will cherish forever,â€ said Travis Franklin with a chuckle, â€œeven though he doesnâ€™t pass the ball very well.â€
Once, during a video shoot Franklin asked Ogide if heâ€™d rather pass the ball or get stabbed with a knife. To this Ogide responded with the same aplomb he does everything else, â€œHow big is the knife?â€
CSU head coach Tim Miles enjoys Ogideâ€™s personality, his smile and laugh and ribs him about being too good-looking for his own good.
Over time, Miles has watched him grow and become a better player. There is no defining moment when Ogide transformed, he said.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t after this game or after a certain event happened, he just always gets consistently better,â€ Miles said. â€œI think, in the future, heâ€™s going to find more ways to improve. Heâ€™s got a great work ethic.â€
This work culminated Tuesday when Ogide was named the first Rams player since Jason Smith in 2007 to earn first-team, all-Mountain West Conference honors.
â€œHe brought a real leadership presence, a no-bullshit work ethic,â€ said fellow team co-captain and senior Adam Nigon. â€œHe showed it over the summer and this season in particular.â€
In four years at CSU, Ogide has completed a B.A. in sociology that started with coursework at Ole Miss, and in May, will earn a masterâ€™s degree in management practice. Both degrees will go on the shelf temporarily while he follows his dream.
â€œIâ€™m going to play basketball as long as I can,â€ Ogide said. â€œIâ€™ll be ready for whatever comes next when itâ€™s over.â€
Miles said Ogideâ€™s mature approach to life would pay benefits to him as a professional. Weaknesses and flaws donâ€™t stop him; he simply works to get better, he said.
â€œHeâ€™ll play professional basketball,â€ Miles said. â€œWhere, I donâ€™t know. Itâ€™s really difficult to make the NBA, but I wouldnâ€™t bet against him.â€
Looking back, Ogide is reminiscent.
â€œIâ€™ll remember the relaxing, joking around with the guys, the fun. We went to movies every week and to Farmerâ€™s Table nearly every Sunday,â€ he said.
He knows there will be phone calls and texts, crossed paths and reunions. The lasting bond of brotherhood found in team athletics will transcend their futures.
But for now, they all have things to finish and journeys to embark on.
Chief Photographer Michael Bettis can be reached at email@example.com.