COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech men’s basketball roster will feature an international flair next fall with the recent signing of Dennis Ogbe, a 6-foot-7 forward from Southern Germany.
Ogbe’s addition will give the Golden Eagles six new faces on the floor in 2010-2011, including signees Javon McKay and Mitchell Hill, transfer Matt Marseille, and redshirts Chase Dunn and Zac Swansey.
“All of our incoming players are outstanding academically and are young men of high character who bring additional skill, athleticism, competitiveness and winning attitudes with them,” said Golden Eagle head coach Mike Sutton. “I am extremely excited about this class.”
Ogbe hails from Munich in Southern Bavaria, Germany’s third-largest city. The son of Festus Ogbe and Margitta Linke, Dennis plans to enroll in electrical engineering. Since 2007, he has attended school and played basketball in Nürnberg, a city of 500,000 located in northern Bavaria.
“I'm really excited about this opportunity,” Ogbe said. “This will be a whole new situation for me. New people, a new living situation, a different game than in Europe. I like handling new situations and I'm really looking forward to a fresh start.”
Sutton appreciates the combination of versatility and toughness that Ogbe exhibits.
“Dennis will give us a skilled, athletic forward who can guard three positions and is a threat offensively both inside and outside,” Sutton said. “He has inside/outside skills and can play multiple positions. He has toughness and a great work ethic. He is also known for his willingness to defend and make ‘effort’ plays by doing the dirty work and making the ‘blue collar’ type plays needed on the court.”
Ogbe’s own analysis of his contributions to the team are similar to Sutton’s.
“I try to do everything that is needed for the team to win, whether it's rebounding or scoring points, picking up the pace or slowing things down,” Ogbe said. “Apart from that, I'm more of a finisher than a playmaker. My best assets are that I always try to give 100 percent and that I don't give up until the game's over.”
Ogbe began his basketball career in the second grade of elementary school with the youth team of sports club TSV Unterhaching, a small town near Munich. He played there until 2007 when he joined the basketball club "Franken Hexer" in Nuernberg.
“We found Dennis through contacts in Europe and starting talking with him after watching video of him play,” Sutton said. “He was playing against professionals and he was impressive in an All-Star Game in Germany which would be a little like our McDonald’s High School All-Star game.
He averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals per game in
the NBBL and was selected to play in the all-star game, scoring 13
points in that spotlight event. In his NBBL Final Four contest,
Ogbe chipped in with 23 points and nine rebounds.
“He also played in the NBBL Final Four event that features the top four teams that have high school aged players. Assistant coach Steve Payne and I were impressed watching his abilities against professionals on film, and we were extremely impressed once we got him on the telephone. After talking to various contacts in Germany, Europe and the United States, we were really impressed with the positive feedback about Dennis and his game.”
Sutton said Ogbe is a good fit for the way the Golden Eagle play.
“His versatility is huge for us and fits quite well with our style and system as he has size and skill to go with his ability to play multiple positions,” Sutton said. “Like a lot of our players, he is not button-holed into a single spot so we can get as many well-rounded players on the court as possible.”
Being an international student brought about a few extra wrinkles for Sutton, his staff, and Tech’s Office of International Student Affairs, according to the head coach.
“International students have some different regulations because of visas, I 20s and additional paperwork that has to be completed per Tech and NCAA guidelines,” Sutton said. “Our Director for International Students Affairs, Charles Wilkerson, and his assistant Brenda Gentry have been very helpful with assisting with the necessary forms. We have many international students and several athletes here and their office assists them in the process.
“Dennis is an outstanding student and will probably earn some college credit for his previous academic performance and may receive possible credits for his fluency in German. His English is excellent and he has an interest in an Engineering degree among some other potential fields of study.”
Sutton feels the latest Golden Eagle signee will be a perfect addition to his roster as he enters his eighth season as Tech’s head coach.
“I am really looking forward to having Dennis in the program as his experience, skill and toughness will allow him to compete with our returnees for a spot,” Sutton said. “I admire his willingness to leave his home and family to come to a foreign country to enhance his academic and athletic opportunities. I know that Tech fans will really embrace him once they see the type of player he is and more importantly, the type of young man that he is.