East County Sports

Ogden takes pro-caliber defensive game to Europe

2016 EAST COUNTY MEN’S BASKETBALL

 

By Bill Dickens
Special to East County Sports.com

 

LUXEMBOURG (6-9-16) — During his high school basketball season at Steele Canyon MARK OGDEN was obscure to say the least. His play was limited until he graduated and enrolled at Grossmont College where he turned in regular playing time under Griffins coach DOUG WEBER.

Upon graduating from Grossmont College, Ogden hooked on at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah and put his foot down.

Ogden, a prolific 6-foot-9, 215-pound senior who was named the 2015-16 Pacific West Conference Defender of the Year, made it official last month when he signed with Racing Luxembourg in Luxembourg City.

“It’s a real privilege and blessing to be able to keep playing basketball,” Ogden said. “Although I’m not playing in the NBA, I get to keep playing the game that I love and have a chance to go where I can shine and make a name for myself. I couldn’t have done it without my support system and I’m thankful for all of my teammates, coaches, and family members who have helped me get here.”

Knowing that the ball stops bouncing eventually, Ogden is grateful for his opportunity to play professionally but added that it won’t keep him from getting his college degree.

“My mom is always telling me the ball stops bouncing and it’s true,” he said. “That’s why I’m going to finish my degree so that I can support myself after basketball is over. I’m taking three classes over the summer right now and then I’ll have just a couple of classes left before I can graduate.”

Ogden reports to camp in mid-August and plans on taking his fall classes online in order to graduate next year.

“I’m the first in the family to go to college and I want to be the first in my family to graduate,” he said. “I can’t wait to come back to the Burns Arena with my family and for them to see me graduate. It’s going to be really special.”

Playing professionally wasn’t always on Ogden’s mind after having to deal with several setbacks, such as getting cut from his high school basketball team and then tearing his meniscus during his senior season.

But after getting a shot to play at Grossmont College where he shined for two years, Ogden transferred to DSU where he etched his name into the history books.

During his senior year, Ogden led the PacWest and finished tied for 12th nationally in rebounding at 10.2 rebounds per game while averaging 13.2 points a contest. Ogden became the first player in the program’s NCAA Division II era to finish a season averaging a double-double and also set the single-season rebounding record (276).

“Mark is so skilled and it’s really fun to see him get to go and play overseas,” Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins said. “We’re going to miss him, but I think he’s going to do great things over there.”

Toward the end of the season, Judkins dropped off a letter to Ogden after practice. In it was information about a summer basketball camp where players competed in hopes of earning a roster spot.

“That’s when it really started to hit me,” Ogden recalled. “I talked to my friends and family about it and everyone encouraged me to try it out.”

Luckily for Ogden he didn’t even need to tryout.

The talented big man ended up playing in the Division II All-Star game where he scored a game-high 23 points despite just a short amount of playing time because he missed practice.

“My plane got delayed and so I ended up missing practice,” Ogden recalled. “It was tough because there was nothing I could do so I just did my best with the time that I was given and was able to play well.”

Ogden’s admirable performance got the attention of several scouts and agents who then came calling.

“I didn’t expect that kind of reaction at all,” Ogden said smiling. “I just went out and tried to have some fun and it ended up being a huge blessing for me.”

After telling his parents about his basketball contract, Ogden’s father Mark Ogden, Sr. joked that he was going to hop on the plane with him.

“It was a proud moment for me and to see everyone so excited,” Ogden said. “My mom had some mixed emotions just because I’ll be halfway around the world, but she’s excited too.”

With Luxembourg tucked between Belgium, France and Germany, Ogden is grateful that at least his teammates speak English.

“I’m definitely going to have to learn some of the languages over there, but at least everyone on the team speaks English,” he said laughing. “That was really good to hear because I thought I was going to be by myself.”

With just a one-year contract, Ogden knows that there isn’t any room for errors and will have to stay on top of his game in the toughest basketball league in Luxembourg.

Ogden joins the team that went 21-8 last year in the N2 league (a mid-level division). But after winning the title last year, the team will be moving up to play the best of the best in the Total League (highest division).

Playing against the best doesn’t bother Ogden who has shown that he has the knack for coming up big in big games.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be fun and I can’t wait.”

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