Oliver Amajoyi is a 201cm forward from Rancho Cucamonga, California that began his basketball career at Los Osos HS. He then played at 2 JUCO schools Trinidad State Junior College (JUCO) and Citrus College (JUCO). He then played at William Jessup University (NAIA) from 2017-2020 playing a total of 73 NAIA games and as a senior played 21 games averaging 7.1ppg, 6.0rpg, FGP: 45.4%, FT: 66.1%. He will take part at the 2020 Howard Hoops Tour in Germany and spoke to germanhoops.com about his basketball career.
Oliver thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how have you been holding up the last months during COVID-19.
Currently I’m back home in Rancho Cucamonga, California after graduating from William Jessup. Lately I’ve been holding up well just working out and staying safe.
You played your last college game on March 5th against Arizona Christian losing 92-81 scoring 7 points and hauling down 5 rebounds. How tough was it having to end your NAIA career like this?
No it wasn’t the best way to end my college career but even getting to the conference tournament was a blessing itself despite my team’s injuries and other walls of adversity that hit us throughout the year but we never backed down and that’s one thing I could always hold my head on.
How did you keep busy the last 4 months? How much of a challenge was it staying in shape? Did you know in March 2020 that you wanted to prepare and be ready for a possible professional career?
These last 4 months have been hard working, a little creative and rewarding. So far I’ve dropped 20 pounds since I’ve been at school so now I’m sitting at that 240 range now. The fact that gyms were closed did make it difficult but then it gave me the opportunity to go back to where it all started at the parks so I would get some work in on the outside courts after my morning runs while making the best of what I have at home to get my exercises done there and just been keeping at it and its lead to my body feeling at its best. It was well before March that I wanted to be ready for this because I know I would regret it if I didn’t chase my dream.
You just finished your college career at William Jessup University (NAIA). How excited are you to be able to test the professional waters this summer?
I’m looking forward to testing the professional waters since I’ve been motivated by my playing experiences in the Venice Basketball where I was blessed to receive an All Star team accolade and the Drew League. Playing with and against all those professionals and holding my own against them gave me inspiration that I could take this to the next level and excel in it.
COVID-19 has affected the whole world. How do you feel have you become stronger as a man off the court during these hard times?
The pandemic helped in quite a few ways. I learned how to be quick to adjust which I know will help me going to a foreign land. Along with that it forced me to be more patient with waiting for this opportunity. Then another would be learning how to make the best of the situations or conditions that come about.
I have often met American players having high expectations of themselves and not knowing how brutal the professional basketball world is. How aware are you that having that long professional career coming from NAIA isn’t easy, but it can be done?
I am truly aware of how difficult it is to get to that professional basketball journey started and lasting but I’m confident that I’ll be able to push through those walls given the obstacles I’ve had to beat it in the past which motivates me to always keep striving to be better at anything I do and always bounce back when being hit.
A good example of how tough professional basketball is Kendall Williams who played at your high school Los Osos. He had an amazing career at New Mexico, played NBA Summer League and played at some top levels in Europe, but now after some years last played in Ireland as his career has gone backwards a bit. Is he like a role model for you? Have you met him or seeked advice from him in how to survive overseas?
It is funny you mention that because Kendall and I go way back to when I was a 4th grader when him and my brother are very close friends and even played on the same team from 8th grade through high school so I grew up with him basically. I never got any advice from him though I wish I could’ve.
How big is your hunger to prove people wrong after playing at 3 schools in 6 seasons? How big is your chip on your shoulder to show people just what you are made of on the court?
I have a big chip on my shoulder for the fact that I’ve been doubted multiple times throughout my time in basketball at every level I was on, I am a late bloomer considering I had some setbacks during my college career. Grateful to God that I was able to push through those obstacles.
You have signed up with the Howard Hoops Tour. How did the contact to Ron Howard come about. He is currently living in Minnesota and has been training young hungry players for years. Is that how the contact came about?
The contact actually came from my teammate from William Jessup. Yeah, my guy Erik Kinnebrew connected me with Ron around March then its history from there on.
How excited are you about having the opportunity to go to Germany and show your talent as a player? What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball?
I’m very excited to go and show my talents along with experiencing a new culture. About basketball in Germany I know that it is growing out but that’s about it, but I’m looking forward to learning about it all because it will help me get better and while gaining more knowledge.
What do you know in general about the Howard Hoops Tour? How aware are you of the positive record of Ron Howard helping get guys like you with little or no experience jobs? Has that increased your hunger even more to succeed?
I know how the process of how Ron is doing this helps put his clients in the best position to get a contract. He’s proven that he’s done so along with that he’s always kept it real with me and that’s what made me trust him while it motivated me to prove him right since he believes in me.
How big is your dream of becoming a professional player. Does your feeling of wanting that succeed any kind of feeling you have ever had for anything in your life?
This dream of mine is pretty big. I just want to use my love for this game to help inspire and help people wherever I’m at the best way I can and my desire for wanting to help people keeps me going because this is the first time I’ve been this passionate about something.
Talk a little about the man Ron Howard. He is an absolute basketball workaholic. How have you gotten to know the man on and off the court the best and what do you appreciate most about him?
Personally I’ve only gotten to know Ron through phone calls and social media, but I’ve learned how dedicated he is to his craft which is being an agent in this sense. One thing I do appreciate about the man so far is that he’s straight forward with you and that’s what makes people better.
How important will it be for you not going into the Howard Hoops tour totally alone as there will be some fellow William Jessup University players along for the ride.
Yeah it feels good knowing I got one of my best teammates going with me on this tour does help since I’ll have someone who I already have chemistry on the court with.
Let’s talk a little about your game. You’re a 201cm forward. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would bets fit the description?
I would give my comparison to a Eric Paschall of the Warriors since we have around the same build as undersized post players that are versatile in shooting and scoring inside the paint along with the ability to guard multiple positions. Then to top it off with the athletic ability.
Talk a little about your strength as a player. What kind of attributes will be on display when you play in Germany?
I look to bring toughness and defense to Germany along with the ability to display my I.Q to the coaches and scouts. I look to show my ability to make the open shot along with doing the dirty work rebounding through traffic. I also look to show my ability to be coachable and do what is needed to win whether that is defense, rebounding, scoring, etc.
On what parts of your game are you working on most in the lab so that you can continue to improve your game as you continue to move forward as a player?
This summer I improved on my footwork and shooting. Dropped 20 pounds so far so I could build up my quickness, and endurance, but it actually helped me with my overall game completely. I’m still looking to improve on all aspects of the game moving forward because you never know what a team will need
You began your college career at Trinidad State Junior College (JUCO) playing 24 games averaging 2.0ppg, 2.0rpg. What kind of experience was it getting that first JUCO experience? I have interviewed many JUCO guys in my career and often hear that playing JUCO is really tough. Is that why so many guys have chips on their shoulders?
That first year was an experience like no other because it was the first time I left home and I soon come to find out that I wasn’t ready for that even though there was a lot more I could’ve grown being out there but at the end of the day it was God’s plan and I learned from it.
You then played a year at Citrus College (JUCO) playing 5 games averaging 1.2ppg, 1.8rpg. How tough was this season after having played so little the season before? Did you get any positives out of this experience?
Okay, this was a time for real growth in my basketball journey. I partially tore my ACL, MCL, LCL, strained calf and pulled hamstring all in one play on November 21, 2015 and took me out that season then again on July 16, 2016 with the same ACL and my meniscus root which sat me the following year so my experience at citrus wasn’t really positive but more life learning and knowledge rewarding on how the game should be played.
You then played at William Jessup University (NAIA) from 2017-2020 playing 73 games. How important was it being able to be with this program for 3 years. What did you learn about yourself as a player and man here that wasn’t present in your 2 JUCO years?
I believe Jessup was the school I needed to be at to really find out who I really was as a basketball player and how to get my basketball IQ up to prepare myself for the next level. I learned how to survive on my own compared to the JUCO lifestyle where I commuted from home
You were able to improve your scoring and rebounding each season. How do you feel did your game grow in your 3 years at William Jessup University (NAIA)?
The more healthy I was getting after that knee surgery was when I made my jumps each year. I’m a late bloomer and I was able to accept that keep pushing and getting better.
What memories do you have of the 2019-2020 season? You won a really exciting semi-final game against Vanguard before losing the final to Masters.
Going to the NAIA National tournament
As a senior you scored in double figures in 8 games. Was your 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win against Ottawa, Arizona one of your most memorable games?
I wouldn’t say it was my most memorable, but it will be a remembered game most definitely.
How did head coach Lance Von Vogt groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach V taught me most how to react when adversity hits.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Erik Kinnebrew?
Haha I did.
Please list your 5 best teammates of all-time?
Who has been the best player that you have battled on a court anywhere that has been in the NBA or a high level?
The best known NBA player from your home town Rancho Cucamonga is Darren Collison. You live in a big area, but is he a guy that you have come across in your life and possibly even trained with in a gym?
No I wish I could that would be a blessing
Please list your personal NBA Rushmore of 4 NBA heads past or present?
MJ, Lebron, Kobe, Wilt
Where were you when you heard of the death of Kobe Bryant? How much of an influence did a guy like that have on you growing up?
I was driving home from school and it hurt me deeply knowing the reason for me playing basketball past away.
People often compare Jordan and Lebron as the best ever, but why isn’t Kobe Bryant mentioned more often in this discussion? Do you feel like Kobe gets a little side tracked in this discussion?
Kobe gets very side tracked in this debate but I don’t think the people are ready for that talk.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The 5 bloods.
Thanks Oliver for the chat.