MORGANTOWN -- There are times when Soraya Ogebar talks to his friends, either on Facebook or face-to-face, and they can't help but ask him the same question
"You don't play basketball any more?"
It is as inevitable as it is real for the West Virginia tight end.
"Basketball," the 6-foot-6, 249-pound Ogebar said, "was my life."
Soccer is still big in Africa, but basketball looms large in Nigeria and perhaps nowhere like it does in Lagos.
A port city bigger than every African city other than Cairo, it was the birthplace of Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Olowokandi. The first is a NBA Hall of Famer center, the other was the first pick in the 1998 NBA Draft.
Ogebar played basketball through his days at a Catholic high school and was the team captain as a senior. He spent the next two years working out at a basketball academy and figuring out his next move. He wanted to go to a college that would satisfy his basketball dream as well as his desire to become an industrial engineer.
Ogebar watched the Mountaineers win the 2007 NIT - he remembered it as the "MIT" - and eight months later found himself traveling to the campus here to enroll for the spring semester.
Ogebar tried out for Coach Bob Huggins' first WVU team that fall and didn't make it.
"The tempo back home is different," he said. "They do a lot of running here. Basketball is run, run, run. Some of the problems I had when I tried out were because I wasn't in shape for American basketball. My skills were fine, but I wasn't in shape."
He vowed to fix that conditioning problem and make the team the next year, but a friend from home who was with him at WVU had encouraged Ogebar to think about football. He told Ogebar he had the skill to play somewhere on the field. Over time he could add strength to his already impressive frame and present the coaching staff with an appetizing prospect.
Ogebar was dismissive at first. He didn't liked football because what he'd seen on television was never something he wanted to play. He gave it a shot, though, and before long he and his friend were making regular trips to the Shell Building. They did the drills that develop speed and agility and acquire the skills Ogebar had not yet tried to grasp.
Last fall, Ogebar showed up at the football walk-on tryout and made the team.
He wasn't realizing his childhood dream, but by finding a basketball player can use his hands to catch passes like a tight end, he understood this American dream.
"There's much more opportunity here," he said. "You just have to try to figure out what you want to do and you can do it."
This wasn't a revelation for Ogebar. His father imports and distributes cosmetics and beverages in Nigeria and that helped him place his two daughters at American University, in Washington, D.C. One is in graduate school, the other is still an undergraduate.
The same chances weren't guaranteed back home.
"It's little things that are big," Ogebar said. "Here, you can have a 17-year-old kid and there's a way for him to work and make money. Back home, there's not that many opportunities to do that.
"Here, with the schools and the people working with you, you can really get an education. There are loans and scholarships. Back home, there's really not a way to do that.