It was a whirlwind journey for the newest member of the Saskatchewan Huskies men’s basketball team. Maxwell Amoafo travelled over 10,000 kilometers and arrived in Saskatoon via Accra, Ghana last week.
Now, he’s trying to acclimatize, in more than one way.
“It’s very cold, that’s the impression, like it’s very cold. I just need to get used to the weather and schedule everything right,” the 21-year-old said Wednesday at basketball practice.
Amoafo’s sister studied for her masters of public health last year at the University of Saskatchewan and reached out to her brother recommending he consider applying to the school.
“My sister told me about it. So I just searched on the internet and contacted the coach and sent him my video,” Amoafo added.
Head coach Barry Rawlyk was struck by the Ghanaian’s professionalism in his emails, but what caught his attention was the fact that Amoafo was also being scouted by a few National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 schools.
“That kinda perked my interest, let’s see what they’re interested in, and then I managed to get a little bit of (video), and I can see that he’s got some potential that we can work with,” Rawlyk added.
Historically, Ghana hasn’t been a basketball nation. The country hasn’t even cracked the top 150 in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) world rankings. Amoafo grew up playing on a cement, concrete surface, because the African nation only just built it’s first hard court last year.
For Amoafo, the transition has been smooth.
“It feels much safer, because of the compression, your knees and stuff, they are good. It’s easy to dribble the ball,” Amoafo gushed.
The Cleveland Cavaliers fan, who wants to be just like Lebron James, said he’s gotten to where he is based purely on his work ethic.
“It depends on your hard work, because we don’t have much facilities. It depends on the amount of time you put in your personal workout to grow yourself each and every day.”
The Huskies, who are currently 3-9 and sit 15th in the Canada West Conference, are hoping the six-foot seven forward adapts to Saskatchewan’s system quickly.
“He’s going to step in and be able to play a little bit and just spare our guys the large number of minutes they’ve been playing,” said Rawlyk, whose squad has been plagued with injuries all season.
“I’m just trying to get used to the system, the tradition here. And I have my teammates helping me, they are very helpful,” Amoafo said during his third practice with the team.
Besides the weather, it seems like Amoafo has already warmed up to the Huskies.