GFA's Sean Obi signs with Rice University basketball
Updated 10:48 pm, Friday, November 30, 2012
What has been a wonderful journey and an amazing adventure now has a happy ending.
Obi, who is 245 pounds, averaged 18 points per game while grabbing 20 rebounds per contest -- second in the nation -- as Greens Farms Academy posted an 18-5 record last season and lost 59-43 to Hyde School of Woodstock in the NEPSAC Class C playoff quarterfinals.
"I'm looking forward to playing basketball at Rice. But Rice is a top flight academic college as well," Obi said. "Rice is one of the top engineering and business schools in the country. And the city of Houston has a huge marketing industry and is a center for medicine."
Rice and fifth-year mens basketball head coach Ben Braun won the recruiting battle for Obi's services over a group of Ivy League schools.
Obi was born and raised in Kaduna, Nigeria, a city of roughly 1.5 million people. He's the youngest of six children and his dad is a Christian farmer.
At age 15, life changed for Obi when his teacher and basketball coach made contact with Steven Eggers, an oil trader who made frequent business trips to Nigeria.
Obi and Eggers met. And in August of 2010, Obi came to America.
More specifically, he came to the Greenwich home of Steven and Bobbi Eggers, who became Sean Obi's legal guardians.
"The biggest part of my life in America has been family," Obi said. "The Eggers family have a special place in my heart. They've meant everything in my life. These three years have been a dream come true."
Their son Hunter was attending Greens Farms Academy and playing on the basketball team.
"Attending Rice University is a marvelous opportunity for Sean," Steven and Bobbi Eggers told the Rice University sports information office. "To go from Kaduna, Nigeria to high school at Greens Farms Academy and on to Rice University is the stuff dreams are made of. Sean has worked so hard for this chance and he deserves to have the brilliant future that lies ahead."
Obi is happy to have closure on the recruiting process and a secure future.
"Every high school senior wants to get the college decision process over," Obi said. "There's nobody left to impress. This allows me to focus on my senior year at GFA on basketball and on my teammates. We want to win titles this year."
It should be a fruitful NEPSAC and FAA season for Obi, GFA and boys basketball coach Doug Scott.
The Dragons open their 2012-2013 campaign Monday against St. Luke's. Besides senior captain Hunter Eggers, the Dragons' roster includes junior point guard Matt Tate of Greenwich, sophomore Zach Baines of Stamford, 6-foot-6 senior Pat Ryan of Darien, eighth grade sensation Tremont Waters (in his second varsity season) and senior Van Burnett of Ridgefield.
"Over the past couple of seasons, we've lured some talented basketball players to GFA. We've done that by telling them that GFA could boost their academic abilities and options," Scott said. "For Sean to come here right out of Nigeria, and three years later get himself accepted into one of the top universities in America, is a tremendous testimony to both him and the school."
Obi -- who was in classes of 100 students in Nigeria -- appreciates what he has found at GFA.
"GFA has transformed my life. It is such a great community. The kids here are future leaders," said Obi, who intends to pursue a business degree at Rice. "There are seven to 10 kids in a class at GFA. The teachers create time for the kids so they succeed. You come away from GFA a very well-rounded person."
Obi has worked on his basketball skills in the offseason playing on an AAU team that included one-year UConn center and current Detroit Pistons rookie Andre Drummond and Kris Dunn of New London High, who is currently at Providence College.
Obi steps into an interesting situation at Rice, which won 19 games overall last season while playing in Conference USA.
Rice and coach Braun -- who spent 11 years at Eastern Michigan and 12 years at California -- began this season with just one senior, four freshmen and three sophomores on a 10-man roster. Two players elected to transfer back in September.
Obi is one of five Rice signees for 2013-14.
That group includes a 6-foot-10 center from Illinois and a 6-foot-8 forward from Orlando, Fla.
"Rice is a beautiful campus. The warm weather is a bonus," Obi said. "Coach Braun is a humble man. We've been in touch quite a while. His team is undersized (none taller than 6-8) right now. They need a rebounder and a shot blocker. I can have a huge impact there. Because they are a very young team I met a lot of the players. I want to be on a team with great chemistry. To be with the same guys for three and four years is important."