Friday, July 25, 2008

Runhouse Hoops Project Feature

Ghana Native Armah Gives All To Basketball

By Jordan Ingram

With the recently assembled Runhouse Hoops Project, Marvin DeBose and Jack Whitehead are directing basketball players from Ghana to junior colleges in the states. Based out of the Finley Recreational Center where DeBose has aided the likes of Philadelphia University’s Malcolm Ingram and Lehigh’s Zahir Carrington, Runhouse plans wants to give athletes the opportunity to receive a solid education on a worldwide scale.
Since the players from Ghana haven’t been able to take either the S.A.T.’s in the United States, their only alternative is to become enrolled in a junior college.
For years DeBose and Whitehead have kept in touch with Cape Coast Hoops Program coach Claude Thompson and now the pair feel it’s ready to unleash their talent on the United States. Needing a suitable mascot to spearhead their goodwill program, their self-proclaimed “Jackie Robinson of Runhouse Hoops” is 6-foot-6 power forward Daniel Armah at Casper Junior College.
The mature 18 year old feels a great deal to succeed in the name of the program but also understands that Runhouse Hoops is a much bigger movement than him.
“I don’t think about myself but rather put [DeBose, Whitehead, and Thompson] on top of every decision I make,” said Armah. “If I smoke or drink that keeps me from being the best basketball player I can be and that affects them so I don’t play around with this opportunity.”
In Armah, he embodies the diligent, high-character basketball players that Whitehead and DeBose are looking to sponsor upon their arrival to the U.S. The son of a father who suffered a stroke and mother who supported Armah’s hoop dreams despite her leg ailment, has forced him to grow up fast which makes him an even better first candidate for the program.
Arriving to Casper in the second semester kept Armah from being able to play for Thunderbirds that have won 12 regional championships and more time to focus on his athletics. Being constantly entrenched in his studies, Armah was able to post a 4.0 G.P.A. in only his first year of school in the states.
At school Armah also had adjust on the fly to the issue of relating to African-Americans. For Armah, listening to his classmates laugh at him speaking english and say that Africans hung off of trees disappointed him but also obligated him to teach them about their true history.
“Whenever people in class would say that we live in trees in Ghana I would say that I can if we only ride on donkees how could I arrive in America so fast,” Armah retorted. “I wasn’t mad at [my classmates] but I said if you’re going to say something like that to someone you should make sure you do your research first.”
The subject that Armah has the biggest passion for at Casper is biology that he plans to major in when he attends a four-year college with a minor in nursing. He eventually wants to return back to Ghana where he can give children in his homeland the proper medical attention that they don’t have enough money to get treated at hospitals.
“I understand how bad things can get for people back in Ghana if they aren’t rich so I desperately want to help when I graduate from college,” said Armah. “Though I love Marvin and Jack, I have a family in Ghana that’s my basketball team. A lot of them won’t receive the opportunity to receive a great education in the states like me so it’s my responsibility to help them.”
On the court the articulate power forward, who speaks six languages fluently, also gained a great deal of discipline from his time playing for Cape Coast. Consistently stressing the fundamentals of basketball, Thompson focused on teaching players like Armah every aspect of the game regardless of position.
The biggest adjustment that Armah has picked up at practice during his redshirt season at Casper is conforming to one position. For the diligent rebounder, he’s willing to give a program that has produced 60 D-I players the benefit of the doubt.
“In Ghana if you want to play a sport you have to know all the rules of the game but when I get to America the coach would tell me that I can’t do this because I’m a power forward which was confusing at first,” Armah said. “I realize that I must be successful here for others to follow me into America so I’ve simply combined what I’ve learned in Ghana with what my coach has taught me.”
Without scoring one point, the inspirational Armah has made an impact on the Runhouse Hoops Project. Next season will be Armah’s first season playing for the Thunderbirds but he’ll also be joined by Cape Coast teammate, 6-foot-9 forward Achu Atakpa.
Not having the opportunity to visit Ghana since his arrival to junior college might be challenging to most but simply a new adventure for Armah. Unlike most, the upbeat power forward sees the bigger picture and realizes that he’ll be back in his homeland in due time.
“Whenever I’m down Jack calls me and between him and Marv I feel like I have a family here,” said Armah. “I really need to be focused on being successful [in America] and when I graduate from college I know my family will be proud of me.”

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