UGA Basketball

Ogbeide brings improved offense as Georgia begins season

Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide (34) during the Bulldogs' exhibition game against Valdosta State.
Georgia forward Derek Ogbeide (34) during the Bulldogs' exhibition game against Valdosta State. Georgia Sports Communications

In Georgia’s final tune-up against Valdosta State last week, Derek Ogbeide continually received the ball in the low post. Ogbeide used a number of moves to get to the hoop. He pivoted to position himself for layups. He put up soft hook shots. In total, the junior from Mableton went 8-of-13 from the floor for 17 points.

Sure, it was an exhibition game against an over-matched opponent. But this isn’t the first time Georgia’s players have seen offensive improvement from Ogbeide.

Head coach Mark Fox said Ogbeide has become more formidable on the offensive end. Senior forward Yante Maten noted Ogbeide has been tougher to guard in practice.

Ogbeide said he spent a lot of time refining his technique while listening closely to what the coaches want out of him when he is close to the basket.

“I’m more efficient than I have been in previous years,” Ogbeide said. “I’m hoping to get more efficient in the process.”

Ogbeide averaged 7.1 points a year ago and posted double figures in eight games. With Georgia losing guard J.J. Fraizier and his 18.8 points to graduation, there is a void others on Georgia’s roster will need to fill. If Ogbeide can become a legitimate offensive threat down low, Georgia’s frontcourt will be a tough one to defend.

A year ago, Maten wouldn’t always have man-to-man opportunities. A lot of times, teams would either switch to zone or double down on him. If Ogbeide can give the Bulldogs double-digit scoring on a regular basis, then that is going to free up a lot of opportunities for Georgia’s senior leader.

“Derek’s been one of our more consistent people in practice, since we started,” Maten said. “He’s really been helping us as a team. We rely on him when he gets the ball in close to score and he has been doing a great job of it. I do predict he’s going to increase his numbers all around – not just points but rebounds too.”

Ogbeide said assistant coach Jonas Hayes has played an “80 percent” role in helping raise his offensive production. And if that is something that does come to fruition this season, Ogbeide will not only help Maten out, but he will likely get many man-to-man opportunities himself.

That is certainly something head coach Mark Fox would like to see.

“I think Derek’s ability to score in the low block has improved,” Fox said. “Now, I think, we throw it to him down there, like we did (against Valdosta State) and he can go to work like Yante a year ago. I think that will make our team harder to guard because Yante is obviously a better player than he was a year ago and is shooting the ball great. They have to spread out and guard us and it leaves Derek one on one.”

Georgia opens its regular season against Bryant Friday at Stegeman Coliseum. Ogbeide will look to be much more of an offensive contributor this season, beginning with the opener.

“It’s good to have multiple options in all aspect of the offense, whether it be me, Yante or any of the other players,” Ogbeide said. “We all can be in the process of helping us.”

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