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“Next level” series, part one: George Odufuwa
Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer
After playing three years at UNT and a year in Lviv, Ukraine, former Mean Green forward George Odufuwa has joined the Texas Legends basketball team – the Dallas Mavericks Developmental League affiliate out of Frisco.
Odufuwa played for the Mean Green from 2008-2011 after transferring from Arizona State University and sitting out due to transfer rules. During his time at UNT, the former Dallas-Kimball high school star helped lead the Mean Green to an NCAA tournament appearance.
Odufuwa has two of the top five rebounding seasons in school history, pulling down 353 and 333 rebounds in his junior and senior years, respectively. In his final two seasons, he averaged 11.3 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.
Odufuwa is six feet eight inches tall and 240 pounds – toward the lower end of the average NBA power forward. Former Mean Green guard Tristan Thompson said if Odufuwa continues to play at a high level, he will work his way up to the NBA.
“Even though he was undersized he wouldn’t quit,” Thompson said. “He was relentless. If George keeps doing what he’s supposed to do, he could have the opportunity [to play in the NBA].”
Prior to his senior season, Odufuwa had already graduated with a degree in economics. But even after his final season he decided to pursue a career in basketball. He signed a one-year professional contract with Politekhnika-Halychyna – a basketball club in the Ukranian Superleague.
Odufuwa said his experience in Ukraine was a development process both on and off the court.
“Basketball is way more fundamental overseas and living where no one speaks English, you have to learn how to shop and get around.” Odufuwa said. “I got a lot more experience learning the pro side of things.”
While overseas, Odufuwa averaged 7.5 rebounds and 8.2 points per game.
In last year’s NBA Developmental League Draft, he was taken as the ninth pick of the third round by the Iowa Energy. However, before he played a game with Iowa, Odufuwa was traded for a third round pick to the Legends. Odufuwa said he was glad he could be close to home and his family could watch him play.
Odufuwa is currently averaging 17 minutes, 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 points per game with Texas.
“It’s been up and down,” Odufuwa said. “The D-League is crazy. I’m more humble and grateful for the opportunity. Everyday I walk in whether I’m playing 40 minutes or two minutes, you know, I want to be positive and try to improve.”
Louisiana State University head basketball coach and former UNT head coach, Johnny Jones said that he knew Odufuwa was special when he watched him score 40 points and record 20 rebounds in high school.
“He’s one of those guys who continues to work hard,” Jones said. “He would be a tremendous asset to any team. He would be a great representative on and off the court for a team. I don’t know anyone who works harder than George.”
The Legends next game will take place today at 9 p.m. at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, Cal. The game can be watched for free on the D-League YouTube.com channel.