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Whatever It Takes - Ladue News: Sports

Whatever It Takes

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Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 2:40 pm

Foye Oluokun fills up the stat sheet like a hungry man at a buffet. A junior guard for the John Burroughs boys’ basketball team, Oluokun leads the Bombers in points (19 per game), rebounds (7 per game), assists (3 per game), steals (almost 4 per game) and blocks (15 total). He’s shooting just under 50-percent from the field and has hit half of his 26 3-point attempts.

Yep, the 6-foot-2, 195 pound Oluokun does plenty for the Bombers, who are a solid 8-3. But, if it was possible, he’d contribute more. “I just do whatever I have to do to win the game,” Oluokun, 16, says.

Hard to imagine that there is more he could do. As it is, he can play anywhere from point guard to power forward. He’s the best interior defender the Bombers have on their roster. His athleticism is jaw-dropping. Last week against rival MICDS, Oluokun dropped in a reverse layup that was so impressive it left the packed gymnasium gasping for air.

He says he hasn’t tested his vertical leap, but if he does, it’s a pretty good bet Oluokun will be labeled a sky walker. Gravity keeps most of us shackled to the ground. Oluokun makes gravity work to bring him back to earth.

Down to earth is a good way to describe the quiet Oluokun. The son of Nigerian immigrants, he and his 18-year-old brother, Fade, are first generation Americans. Their father, Steve, emigrated from Nigeria to attend college and is now an engineer. He still has family in Nigeria but hasn’t returned to visit since he was a toddler. Oluokun says there is a unique perspective when you grow up two different cultures. “The culture at home is different than the culture outside,” Oluokun says. “It helps me.”

Growing up, Oluokun tried every sport he could get into. Among his favorites were basketball, football and soccer. When it came time to make a decision, Oluokun followed his brother into football. “My dad always told me he wanted me to play soccer,” Oluokun says. “But when I chose football he was supportive.”

His father was so supportive he lent a hand on the chain gang at Burroughs football games. He was one of the guys carrying the sticks that indicate down and distance.

Oluokun did some impressive work on the football field this year, his first playing offense. He was a defensive hawk in the secondary his first two years, but this year, he also played wide receiver and caught 41 passes for 669 and nine touchdowns. But his first love has always been hoops. He spends his spring and summer playing basketball. When he’s at home and is bored or needs some time to himself, you can find him in the backyard, shooting. “I like the up and down nature of it,” Oluokun says of basketball. “I like the fluidity.”

He also likes playing with the Bombers. Several of the guys on the team played football and they have all grown close through the seasons and years. Oluokun says the tight-knit nature of the group has helped them on the court. “Playing these games every season with each other has made us close,” he says.

That bond will help the Bombers as they get into the latter stages of their schedule. Burroughs has two games with Lutheran North and another meeting with MICDS. There is also a district tournament that includes Lutheran North and Whitfield. The Bombers want to play their best when the games matter the most. To get there, Oluokun believes they have to keep their eyes on the smaller goals. “We have to focus on every day,” Oluokun says. “To play MICDS and Lutheran North we have to be at the best of our ability.”

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