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WVU Senior ‘Glue Guy’ Gabe Osabuohien on Embracing His Defensive Role



(Photo by Richard Carlson/Inertia)

West Virginia University men’s basketball senior Gabe Osabuohien was lightly recruited coming out of Arkansas’ Southwest Christian Academy in 2017.

The 6-foot-7 forward drew interest from some mid-major programs, receiving offers from Albany, Arkansas-Little Rock, Murray State and Tennessee-Martin, among others. Osabuohien’s lone high-major came from in-state Arkansas, however, which is where the Toronto native ended up signing.

Osabuohien struggled to find playing time with Arkansas initially as a freshman. The 2017-18 Razorbacks had six seniors on the roster that made it difficult for younger players like him to work into the team’s rotation.

Speaking with members of the media Monday afternoon, Osabuohien said he was able to find his way onto the court through his willingness to do “the little things”, things other players do not want to do.

“Being a high-major, D-I athlete, you were definitely the best player on your high school team, then you come to a team with 12, 13 people just like you,” Osabuohien said. “Being a young player my freshman year at Arkansas, one of my biggest things was how was I going to play? Doing what the six seniors weren’t going to do and just the little stuff ended up getting me a whole lot of playing time on the court as a freshman.”

WATCH: Taz Sherman and Gabe Osabuohien Say WVU is Excited to Play No. 1 Gonzaga

Osabuohien said he quickly started to realize that doing the little things — playing tough defense, taking charges, playing with energy off the bench — was helping his team win.

“Some people have better talents at better aspects of the game so you look and find where you’re going to impact the game the most and that’s going to lead to playing time on the court,” Osabuohien said. “Just sticking to that and sticking to the little stuff, and realizing that the little stuff adds up to us winning. That’s the number one goal at the end of the day, the team before myself.”

With Arkansas, Osabuohien averaged 6.8 minutes per game as a freshman and 15.1 minutes as a sophomore. He was dismissed from the team following the 2018-19 season but landed at West Virginia over the summer.

Osabuohien said WVU was the first school to contact him about transferring, through a connection with one of his coaches in Canada. Osabuohien said after being at Arkansas, which prides itself on speed as the ‘Fastest 40’ program, WVU’s reputation for toughness is what drew him to Morgantown.

“Knowing what West Virginia is all about, the toughness, playing hard, everything at West Virginia is tagged with being tough,” Osabuohien said. “I could come here and play my playstyle and it’d match the team’s play style.”

Osabuohien had a bit of a breakout season in his first year with the Mountaineers. Not a breakout season in the usual, offensive, sense, but a breakout in terms of doing the little things. Osabuohien averaged 18.5 minutes per game last season, sixth-most on the team, and led the Mountaineers in both deflections (148) and charges taken (23).

“He’s a Swiss Army knife, he can do anything,” junior forward Derek Culver said of Osabuohien. “He’s a glue guy, he’s going to work hard, he’s going to be the first one off the floor. He does all the little dirty work. He’ll screen, he’ll box out, all the little things. He’s a guy that a lot of stuff might not pop up on the stat sheet but you know that Gabe is doing it.”

WATCH: Huggins, McBride and Culver Discuss Winning Crossover Classic Championship

Through the first three games of 2020-21, Osabouhien is again doing the little things. During WVU’s championship run at the Crossover Classic, Osabuohien drew eight fouls in the team’s three games, all Mountaineer victories.

“When doing the little stuff, you recognize it yourself, seeing you’re helping the team,” Osabuohien said. “Whether it’s just taking a charger here or there, changing momentum or just getting stops consistently. I definitely take a lot of pride in it. It leads to winning and that’s the goal at the end of the day.”

Osabuohien and the No. 11 West Virginia will meet No. 1 Gonzaga Wednesday night in the Jimmy V Classic. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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