The story of Charleroi native Elijah Obade is one filled with hard work and dedication.
Since graduating from Charleroi High School in 2009, Obade has put in the work necessary to become a Division II star at Millersville University, opening plenty of eyes along the way - including some in the NBA.
A three-sport star – football, basketball and track – in high school, Obade had his heart set on playing football in college until he emerged as a force on the basketball court, averaging 20 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks during his final season.
“I figured there would be more opportunities for me that way,” the 6-9 Obade said. “I think I made a good decision.”
Obade leads all NCAA Division I and Division II players in rebounding at 13.2 per game and leads the PSAC in blocks with a 2.7 per game average. In addition, Obade is the only Division II player who ranks in the Top 10 in rebounding, blocks and double-doubles.
Obade is averaging 13.7 points and 12.7 rebounds this season, while shooting 61.5 percent from the floor, leading the Marauders to a 10-5 record.
But it wasn’t always easy.
After spending a year at Delaware Tech, where he averaged eight points and eight rebounds per game, Obade transferred to Millersville, where he struggled initially. He averaged 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore, but shot just 43.3 percent from the field.
“He was a kid who had all the tools, but had a lot of holes in his game,” said Millersville head coach Fred Thompson. “He had size, but no vertical leap to speak of and didn’t have one post move at all. But I also saw a kid with unlimited potential if he put the work in and he certainly did.”
Obade improved his output to 11.5 points and 9.8 rebounds per game as a junior, and has taken another step this season.
Thompson credits old-fashioned hard work, as Obade has shown the dedication necessary to become a force.
“What can I say except he has done everything we have asked of him,” Thompson said. “We wanted him to really put his blood, sweat and tears into this, and he has given us that and more. Believe me, there is no harder worker than Elijah and no nicer kid. He has truly been a pleasure to coach, and it is great to see all of his hard work pay off. Opposing teams use two and three guys to box him out on each possession, and he still leads the nation in rebounding. That’s his commitment to wanting to be great.”
Obade got the opportunity to show off how far he has come as a player when Millersville visited California Friday night.
Playing in front of his family and friends, Obade scored 13 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and played a major role in the Marauders’ 62-60 win over the Vulcans.
“I compare it to a person having to take a class over and over,” Obade said. “Are you going to continue to make the same mistakes and have to keep taking the class, or are you going to learn from your mistakes and get better? I didn’t want to keep making the same mistakes as a player, and I want to get better every single game. If you are willing to work for it, then you can accomplish what you want to.”
Obade’s improvement has garnered him interest from outside the college ranks.
“I have had the Golden State Warriors and a couple other Western Conference teams call and request video on him,” said Thompson. “Who knows what can happen from there? That may be as far as it goes, but even if that is it, he has got his name out there and opened up some eyes, and I believe that says quite a lot.”