Chamberlain Oguchi is a 30 year old 186cm Nigerian shooting guard from Houston, Texas that is playing his sixth professional season and this season played with Soles de Mexicali (Mexico-LNBP) playing 30 games averaging 13.5ppg, 3.9rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 46.4%, 3FGP: 40.4%, FT: 81.8%, in Feb.’17 moved to Boulazac Basket Dordogne (France-ProB). He started his basketball career in 2004 with Oregon (NCAA) playing 86 games over three seasons and then moved to Illinois St. and as a senior played 34 games averaging 15.2ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.3apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 41.2%, 3Pts: 39.5%, FT: 81.9%. He started his professional basketball career in 2009 with STB Le Havre (France-ProA) and in the last years also gained experience in the D-league with the Maine Red Claws, Philippians, Lebanon, Iraq, Russia, Spain and Poland. He spoke to German Hoops last month before signing with Boulazac Basket Dordogne (France-ProB).
Champ thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and are you a guy that makes new years resolutions or moreover a guy that doesn´t bother with that?
My pleasure. I recently returned to Houston, Texas and am undergoing a strict basketball training program in preparation for what opportunities lie ahead.
Last season after not being able to play for two seasons due to injury, you played in Poland for Anwil Wloclawek (Poland-TBL): 11 games: 13.7ppg, 1.9rpg, 1.0spg, FGP: 36.2%, 3PT: 35.5%, FT: 81.8%. What did you learn from that experience?
For starters, I learned that ice-cold weather and myself don’t get along lol. I also learned the importance of patience. After sidelined for 2 seasons I was eager to pick up where I left off, but sometimes the first opportunity is not always the best opportunity. I learned it’s better to wait for the right opportunity than to sell yourself short. I also learned the importance remaining positive and rational in the midst of adversity.
After a few injuries a player can get labeled as a guy that is injury prone. In your first four professional seasons you had no problem playing through, but then the injuries happened and you didn’t play in the 2013-2015 seasons. Do you believe that you have become injury prone now over the last few years?
Not at all. Injuries are part of the game of basketball; they occur every year presumably on every team. The most important aspect is how players recover and/or respond from them. Considering that I work just as hard on my strength and conditioning as I do on my basketball skills, I would say I possess quite a bit of durability and dexterity.
Was it difficult for you to focus through the injuries and stay positive? You’re 30 years old now and staying healthy from now on would be more beneficial to be able to play as long as possible?
Life is about perspectives. Figuratively speaking, I choose to view the glass as half-full so with that mindset, it’s not difficult for me to see the silver lining in every situation or challenge. Yes, indeed. I’ve naturally taken a more proactive approach to recovery and diet as I’ve gotten older.
This season you were playing for Soles de Mexicali (Mexico-LNBP) averaging 13,5ppg, 3,9rpg and 1,2apg. What kind of experience was that for you? I am sure your thankful that you get a pay check every month.
I’ll admit that it was a different brand of basketball, but one that I learned a lot from. The Mexican Basketball League is one take takes some getting used to if you’re not familiar with it. I plan to take what I learned with me there onward. People earn paychecks each month in all avenues of life. More than being grateful to earn a paycheck, I’m grateful to be able to earn a paycheck doing what I’ve loved to do since I was 7yrs old.
You’re 30 now and still have many good years left and want to get back to Europe. You have had your share of experience in France, Russia, Spain and Poland, but still a lot of game left. Do you feel like you can still make an impact in a high level league?
Absolutely. I’ve had very high-level European experience that has served me well. I feel great physically, I feel outstanding mentally, I’m in the prime of my career, and I’m more than capable of bolstering a club’s roster. I look forward to it!
You played two seasons in the D-league under current Polish national coach Mike Taylor. How has he helped you in your career?
From the days I played under Coach Mike Taylor to now, he’s been one of my biggest supporters and vice versa. I consider him one of the best international coaches, and I have the utmost respect for him professionally and personally.
In the summer of 2015 you were MVP of the Afrobasket.com All-African Championships. Did that surprise you a bit just how strong you played despite not having played the two seasons prior?
I can honestly say it didn’t surprise me to be crowned MVP of the Afrobasket.com All-African Championships. Despite not having played in the 2013 – 2015 seasons, I worked extremely hard to improve my individual game in all areas, which ultimately made me a better player than I was before the hiatus.
After such an impressive tournament that, how did you evaluate your own play in comparison to your season in 2012-2013 with Herbalife Gran Canaria 2014 (Spain-ACB). Was your game better that summer, and do you feel your development was possible despite not having played?
My game continues to evolve so I was without doubt a better player during that tournament than during my time with Gran Canaria. It’s an understood concept in basketball that players improve during the off-seasons. Therefore, with essentially 2 extended off-seasons, I was able to make huge strides in terms of my individual development.
What message would you like to give teams across the world about your game 100% again?
Although I’m the type of player that would rather to allow his game do the talking, in the words of the late, great Muhammad Ali, “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”
Over the years, I got to know some of your Nigerian teammates like Tony Skin, Michael Umeh, Koko Archibong or Ekene Ibekwe. What has been your biggest pleasure having had guys like these as teammates over the years?
Having teammates/friends like them is a blessing because those are relationships that will last a lifetime. Though I have a different relationship with each one, I appreciate them all the same. We talk daily and it’s nice know I have friends like them that can relate to me and who support me whole-heartedly. Michael Umeh and I are actually childhood friends so being able to share the 2015 Afrobasket Championships and 2016 Olympic experiences with him was extremely gratifying.
You played at the Olympic Games in London (United Kingdon) in 2012 playing 4 games averaging 12.3ppg, 1.3rpg, 1.3apg, FGP: 25.0%, 3PT: 47.6%, FT: 84.6%. You elected to go to the D-league. Do you feel like you were overlooked a bit in Europe from getting a job from a Eurocup/Euroleague team especially after dropping 35 points in 33 minutes against France?
Yes. I believe my performance not only vs. France, but during the both Olympic tournaments should’ve enabled me to play at the highest level in Europe (Euroleague). However, I had my eyes set on playing in the NBA as opposed to Europe following the 2012 Olympics. After opportunities with the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and Guangdong Southern Tigers of China didn’t pan out, I elected to play in the D-League in hopes to generate another NBA opportunity. I’ve always believed myself to be an NBA-caliber player.
What memories do you have from that 79-73 loss to France. Was this your best game in your professional career? You were the best player on the floor that had many NBA players like Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw.
I remember being nervous prior to the game against France 1) Because I was competing against a team with at least 7 past or present NBA players which included Tony Parker (Finals MVP and All-Star PG), and 2) Because I started at the PG for the first time in my career due to the unfortunate injuries of Tony Skinn and Adeola Dagunduro. No, it wasn’t the best game of my professional career. It was the best game of my professional career on a platform where the world was able to take notice.
Were you able to take a personal memento from the 156-73 loss against the United States where future NBA legends like Lebron, Kobe, Melo, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Chris Paul played etc.
Yes… Respect all, fear none, and always leave your heart on the court. I took that mindset to our August 1st, 2016 rematch vs. USA and managed to tally 21points, 3steals, 2assists, and 1rebound.
You played two seasons with the Meralco Bolts (Philippines-PBA). What amazing experience do you remember having there in terms of culture?
Playing with the Meralco Bolts was a unique experience. My stints with the Bolts helped me to expand my game by essentially forcing me to be effective on both ends of the floor. Having to be the lockdown defender while being the primary offensive threat is not easy, but I embraced that task. One thing that stood out about their culture is how passionate they are about their basketball. It was invigorating. Another thing that stood out about their culture was how genuinely happy and friendly the people are. As a foreign player, this is something much appreciated. To this day, I still remain close with a lot of the friends I met in the Philippines.
As a rookie you played with STB Le Havre (France-ProA). What was your wake up call to be a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were in a very different place then in college or home?
My rookie wake up call in Pro-A France was during the LNB All-star weekend. As a rookie, I was selected to be a contestant in the LNB 3-point Shooting Competition. I can recall being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the environment, and missing more 3-pointers than I normally would. It was at that point I realized I was officially in the big leagues.
How did Oregon (NCAA) head coach Ernie Kent start to groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Playing for Ernie Kent prepared me for the pros by allowing me to understand at a young age the idea of persevering through adversity in whatever form. In addition to that, playing within the Ernie Kent system bolstered my individual development as he taught many subtle details of the game that proved essential to being effective at the professional level.
You played three years with current FC Bayern Munich captain Bryce Taylor. How proud have you been of his career and if you had to choose one moment that you remember most with him on and off the court what would you choose?
Not only did I play with Bryce for 3 years, he was my roommate during those 3 years, and continues to be one of my good friends today. Seeing how his career has progressed has been a joy to watch. He deserves every bit of success he has acquired because he’s worked extremely hard for it, and has remained humble through it all. I could go on for days about memorable moments on and off the court with Bryce, but one moment on-the-court that sticks out in my mind was witnessing his perfect 32-point performance (11-11FG; 7-7 3PT) during the 2007 Pac-10 Tournament Championship game. A memorable moment of the court was when we reunited for the first time after college as professional players, and were able to catch up on lost times
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Such a tough decision, but I would choose: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Wilt Chamberlain (Not because of the name)
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never-ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
“Never-ending” is right. I think by defeating the historic Golden State Warriors en route to capturing the 2016 NBA Title and Finals MVP, he certainly brought himself much closer to that NBA Mount Rushmore. I think the fact that he can be mentioned in that debate with only 3 Championship rings speaks volumes about the greatness of Lebron James.
Where do you rank Kevin Garnett with the best power forwards that ever played the game?
I personally would rank Kevin Garnett among the 3 best Power-Forwards of all-time, behind Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
As a shooter/scorer myself, I enjoy watching other elite shooters and scorers light up scoreboards and break records. With that said, Klay Thompson’s performance that night ranks 2nd on my most impressive stat of the 2016-2017 NBA season thus far, behind Russell Westbrook’s triple-double tally.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
Yes. In my opinion he is currently the best player in the world from a statistical standpoint. It’s simply amazing what he’s been able to do individually this season. I’m very impressed.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I watched was Assassin’s Creed. I played the video game so the movie was a must-see.
Thanks Champ for the chat.