Cholet Basket, a club in Cholet, France, finished its season in France’s top league. It was a successful season, but the club fell short in the playoff quarterfinals.
A key contributor to the club’s turnaround was the acquisition of forward/center O.D Anosike in December. At the signing, Cholet Basket was 3-9, and they concluded the season with a record of 18-16.
Anosike brought energy, physicality, leadership, and professionalism to the club, something he’s been doing his whole career.
At the age of four, Anosike fell in love with the game of basketball. His older sister was a fan of Michael Jordan, so they were both tuned in when the Chicago Bulls were on. He played in his first game in third grade and knew basketball was his sport.
The 6-foot-8 forward/center attended St. Peter’s Boys’ High School, a Catholic School in Staten Island, New York. As a senior, he averaged 17.8 points per game and eventually committed to Siena.
“First, I didn’t want to go too far, so being a few hours away was great. Secondly, from an academic standpoint, Siena was a great option. They have a well-renowned business school, and I was an economics major, so that appealed to me. The third reason was the head coach. Fran McCaffrey, a very well-respected coach, was excellent during the recruiting process. I enjoyed how honest he was,” Anosike said about his reasons for choosing Siena.
Siena, at the time, was a powerhouse of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and started to gain national recognition.
As a freshman, his minutes were inconsistent, but he appeared in all 34 games for Siena. The team finished as regular-season and conference champions earning a trip to the NCAA tournament. Anosike became a starter and showed flashes of his potential as a sophomore, but he wasn’t satisfied.
During the offseason between his sophomore and junior season, he put in work on his body and game. The Siena star burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 15.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest.
“Things started to get interesting. I had a professional reaching out to see if I wanted to put my name in the NBA Draft. I was getting national buzz and led the nation in rebounding and double-doubles. I validated the effort I put in my junior year with a solid senior year. I started to realize that I can play basketball at a high level for a living,” said Anosike.
Anosike became the NCAA’s leading rebounder in back-to-back seasons (2012 and 2013). He credits instinct, technique, and effort to becoming an elite rebounder. Observing the way the ball bounces off the rim and getting into the proper positioning is something a coach can’t teach. Technique comes in when you need to box out an opponent, and effort needs to be given because you can never box out too much.
Off the court, the Staten Island native enjoyed the small college feel with Siena’s student population just above 3,000 students. The campus was small, but it was right outside Albany, the capital of New York, so there was a lot to do. As a devote Catholic, Anosike appreciated that Siena was a Catholic school, and the people were welcoming.
Building off a successful collegiate career, Anosike played in the NBA Summer League and received NBA workouts but headed overseas to Italy to begin his professional career.
It has been a journey for the big man, who began his professional career at 22 years old overseas. As an American navigating around a foreign country, there were obstacles where people didn’t speak the language, but he enjoyed his first few years in Italy.
He embraced the culture and the people of Italy. The food was great, and so was Italy’s top basketball league, where he established himself as a double-double machine and three-time leading rebounder in 2014, 2015, and 2017. While the overseas veteran has enjoyed each of the countries he’s played in, Italy has a special place in his heart.
His journey has brought him to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, South Korea, and Mexico. He has played in some of these countries multiple times too.
“When you see guys playing in these same countries over and over, there’s a reason. It is not necessarily talent. He might be a great locker room guy, he works hard in practice, or I like that guy. You might say that he likes that country, but that country likes him more.”
Anosike has played in Mexico the past few summers and won back-to-back championships with Fuerza Regia (2020 and 2021). The Mexican National Professional Basketball League is an underrated league that is very physical, playing into Anosike’s strengths.
The big man wrapped up his season last November and enjoys that he becomes a free agent when European and Asian markets are looking for players.
Despite many offers, Anosike signed with Cholet Basket, a historic club in France. The club prides itself on developing young talent. In 18 games with Cholet, he averaged 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26 minutes per game.
Anosike wouldn’t change his experiences for anything. There have been some adversities, including injuries, being cut from a club, and playing on losing teams, but they’ve allowed him to grow and have longevity in the profession.
Impact of Basketball Overseas
Despite signing with 3-9 Cholet, Anosike took pride in helping the club turn its season around because there is a lot on the line if you don’t win games overseas.
The schedule is between 30-34 games in domestic leagues, so every game matters. “If you finish in the last two places, you go down. That is big for your career, club, and city. The economic impact on the city or town you’re in is huge,” said Anosike.
In the NBA, games matter, but it’s 82 games, and you have a lot more leeway. Every team has different agendas. Some teams are trying to make the playoffs, and some are tanking to rebuild. Losing might be welcomed, but overseas you’re not going to find any place where losing is welcomed, according to the center.
When clubs look for an elite rebounder each offseason, his name floats to the top of the list, but Anosike is a very polished offensive back to the basket big who can shoot from 15 feet out. He is a vocal defensive anchor who does all the small things that don’t show up in the box score each night.
The talented big man plans to continue playing professionally for the next three years and understands that the end is near. However, he is preparing for the future and is working on his Ph.D. in Public Administration. Anosike wants to get into coaching, athletic administration, or become an agent.
Anosike gets experience coaching and helping kids through his summer basketball camp and will continue exploring his next avenue after the ball stops bouncing for him.
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