PULLMAN, Wash. — The American dream sometimes is a romanticized proposition.
However, WSU big man and Nigerian native Efe Abogidi's path to becoming one of the most highly sought after posts in all of college basketball is also a pretty unlikely story.
"I'm not an American. I came here looking for opportunities, and I'm trying to find opportunity," reflected Abogidi.
Back in 2017, he tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus and had to have three surgeries. It took him two and a half years to fully recover.
Now, he's entertaining whether to go pro or return to college while training out of West Palm Beach, Florida.
In terms of the NBA, he's worked out for the Bucks and Kings and is going to work out for the Clippers and potentially the Blazers.
In terms of college, he has his pick of the litter as his final four is Arizona, Maryland, Florida and WSU. He's visited every school currently except for Florida as he tries to figure out his future.
"It's insane to imagine that I'm here," reflected Efe. "I'm doing all this. A couple years ago, I wasn't even of thinking of playing basketball at college level. I got hurt, and I just went downhill. Nobody knew about me, but I'm here right now. I look back, and I feel like it's a blessing to just have all this. Everything you have, you got to cherish it."
When Efe entered the transfer portal a few weeks ago, the fruits of his labor became evident very quickly. Five minutes in, he had ten calls from different schools and ended up hearing from about 140 programs.
The Nigerian’s process in getting down to this quartet wasn’t about bells and whistles.
"I don't care about your facility. I don't care about your name. I don't care about who you played or where you guys went to in the national championship. It’s just about who really cares about me, who needs me the most," said Efe.
And in terms of needing his help, WSU has apparently made that very clear.
"The four schools I’m really interested in want me back (in college), especially Washington State. They're pushing real hard. They feel like this is the right place for me. Pullman is obviously the place I've been for two years. I know the coach, I love the coach, I love the people here. Although it's a small town, it's a lovely place to be. Everybody knows you. Everybody loves you here. All of that, just being here, I think is something to think about," said Efe.
Something that has been an almost automatic disqualifier for Efe during his recruitment is when coaches talk bad about WSU. He terms it as a "red flag" and a discussion he is wholly uninterested in.
What he is interested in is the program that will help him the most in going pro. He’s hopeful if he returns to school, it will be his last year in the college ranks.
"Obviously, everybody knows that I’m really athletic, but nobody knows how I can stretch the floor. That’s something I need to exhibit," said Efe. "That's something that I need to show if I want to make it to the next level. The next level is all about, if you're a big man, how can you space the floor? Can you shoot from deep? In the transfer portal, I'm telling everybody player development is what I need."
Efe wants one thing to be clear—There is one thing that won't dictate where he goes next: NIL money.
"When I entered the portal, I had a lot of messages of people telling me, ‘Oh, you’re leaving Washington State because of NIL deals.’ I saw all that stuff on Twitter. I'm thinking about my future and how I'm going to make it pro. I'm not talking about making NIL money. That's not really important to me," said Abogidi.
No matter what his decision is, which Efe says is coming very soon, he has a message for the fans that have cheered him on the last few years.
"I just want to say this is always going to be home for me. I will always be a Coug for life," said Efe, who also said that all the Cougar fans tweeting him to return has been "lovely". "WSU took a chance on me when I had nobody to start with. I always want the fans to understand when I come back here, I will always support Washington State, no matter what. It doesn't matter where I go. If I come back to Washington State, like I said, awesome, but it doesn't matter where I go. I want to come back here, and it be understood that I'm still a Cougar no matter what."