Olayemi leads by example

John Brown University’s men’s basketball team has some shoes to fill in point guard.

Samson Olayemi, the Eagles’ starting point guard, will be graduating at the end of this year. In his two years of playing for John Brown University, Olayemi has made a name for himself as a tough player who has a knack for creating scoring opportunities for his teammates and playing hard-nosed defense. This past year, he led the Sooner Athletic Conference with 5.2 assists per game.

“He’s a really good passer,” said teammate Max Hopfgartner. “He’s also a really good defender, so you have to really worry about him on defense. On offense, he looks for open teammates; he really pushes the ball. I really like playing with him.”

Olayemi’s love affair with basketball goes back to gym class in his hometown of Manchester, England. There, he was introduced to the sport and eventually developed a passion for the game.

“I started playing basketball at the age of 15,” said Olayemi. “I used to play a lot of soccer growing up, but in gym class, I was introduced to basketball. Then, a couple of my friends played basketball when they went to high school, so I tried to play the sport. I fell in love with it and pretty much just transitioned from soccer to basketball.”

Olayemi’s love for the game followed him across the Atlantic in 2010 when he moved from Manchester to Connecticut. His talent and passion earned him a basketball scholarship to Central Maine Community College, where he played until being recruited by JBU in 2013 through former JBU Basketball player Kofi Joseph.

“(Joseph) was an immigrant from England as well,” said Olayemi. “We used to play against each other in England, but then we both moved to America at the age of 18. […] He connected me with a coach. So I flew down for a visit, and that’s how I ended up here.”

Since joining JBU’s basketball team, Olayemi has taken on responsibilities as a team leader, both in the title of Captain and by example. He has impressed his teammates and coaches with his work ethic and leadership.

“Samson is one of the hardest workers we have on the team,” said head coach Jason Beschta. “He’s one of those guys who’s gonna show up and have a good practice for us every day. You always know what you’re gonna get out of him. He’s a captain, so he’s one of our leaders. He wasn’t exactly the loud-spoken kind of leader, but was one that really led by his actions. That played quite a big role in who we were this year.”

Off the court, Olayemi continues to impress. His teammates describe him as a great friend.

“I think he’s a great guy,” said teammate Nate Anderson. “If there was conflict within the team, that’s where he was really good about talking it out. He made everybody else feel like they agreed. On a less serious note, he can make you laugh no matter what.”

While he has definitely left his mark in JBU basketball, Olayemi also realizes that he has developed as a person quite a bit in his time at JBU, both as a player and as a person.

“I feel like I’ve developed,” said Olayemi. “(JBU) has taught me a lot of things I haven’t experienced before, like in England or in my community college back in Maine. It’s really changed me and has helped me see that there’s more to life… It’s been challenging for all two years, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve done.”