Balogun carves path 4,000 miles away from home

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- The intensity Miller's Tariq Balogun brings to the court lives up to his last name, which translates to "Warlord."

"Just having it in me, like knowing I'm a warlord, not everyone has a name like that," Balogun said, "So to have that, I put myself above everyone I'm playing."

Despite Tariq's passion for the game, growing up in London he did not have any interest in the game of basketball. Balogun said seeing a brawl in the NBA as a kid turned him away from the sport in his youth.

"I started playing basketball when I was 14," the senior center said, "I didn't want to play at first, but my dad was like look how tall you are, you're like 6'5 at 14."

Now the game he once thought was "messed up" took him 4,000 miles away from the big city of London to Virginia, where Miller Coach Danny Manuel first noticed him.

"You saw this really wiry kid, who enjoyed the game but was very far from being a basketball player," Manuel said, "He couldn't catch, he could barely dribble, but you could just see that the desire was there."

Through a friend of a friend of a friend, Balogun eventually found himself starting for a Miller team poised to bring home a state title a year after losing in the championship.

"I know these guys, the guys that were here before me at Miller, it meant a lot to them even more because they lost in the finals," Balogun said, "So for me to come in and help them and for us to win was a great feeling."

Given the right stage, Balogun has drawn interest from Division I programs, his coach knows the big man is still only scratching the surface.

"Tariq's not going to be the basketball player he's going to be until he's 22-years-old," Manuel said, "You figure even now he's only four or five years into the game, so doubling his experience in the game is going to be night and day."

Five years after deciding to step on the court, the game has given Balogun a future.

"Honestly, if you told me to imagine where I would be at 19, I would have no idea," Balogun said, "I'm really 6,000 miles away from my home playing basketball at a great school, so its just a great feeling."



 
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