By Lindsey Turnbull
Having been courted by a number of top-tier basketball universities in the United States, 18-year old Caymanian Joshua O’Garro has chosen the University of Oklahoma as the place where he hopes his dreams of playing the sport professionally will be carved out.
Joshua has made history in the Cayman Islands as the first Caymanian to receive a full scholarship at the university, one of the most prestigious in the US for the sport, where basketball is played at the NCAA Division I (top) level.
Mum Bobeth says her son showed athletic promise at an early age.
“Joshua impressed us with excellent hand/eye coordination at the age of 1,” she confirms.
Both his mum and dad, Dwight, have played sports at a high level, so athleticism is well entrenched in his, and his brother Micah’s, genes. Bobeth played on Cayman’s national team for football, netball and basketball and was a qualified football referee and is currently a qualified basketball referee, while Dwight also played for the national team in both football and basketball and was also a qualified basketball referee. Grandad Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro has spent his life dedicated to the sport, having played professionally, while his uncle Samuel has captained Cayman’s national team, so the strong lineage runs deep.
Bobeth says they were keen to expose Joshua at a young age to a broad variety of sports, to allow him to choose for himself which one he wanted to concentrate on as he grew up.
“Whenever he played a sport, whether that was football or basketball, he was always in the top two percent of players,” Bobeth confirms. “Whichever sport he chose, we supported him.”
Even though Joshua was able to play a variety of sports, he decided at the tender age of 7 that he wanted to become a professional basketball player.
“Dwight and I decided that if that’s what he wanted to do, we would allow him to focus on plan A while we focussed on plan B, getting him a good education at the same time!” Bobeth advises.
At 13 Joshua decided his focus would be on basketball and thus began a life that any parent of a child driven to succeed in sport will know: endless early starts, constant driving to practice, saving for sporting trips, preparing for tournaments, and so on.
Just two years later, Joshua moved to the United States to attend The Vanguard School and transfer to Santa Clarita Christian School in California. It was a huge, brave move by a young person intent on his dream.
“It meant that he often spent many months away from us and he would sometimes then only get a week to visit us,” Bobeth confirms.
By 17 Joshua had already shown a tremendous competitive streak, participating in the Island Games and contributing to Cayman’s gold medal for basketball.
BTI his travel Basketball Team then reached out to a number of universities on Joshua’s behalf, giving them his background and showcasing his talents. The result was that a number of universities wanted Joshua for themselves.
“He ended up getting eight offers, ten were courting him and 12 had shown some interest,” Bobeth says. “He decided on the University of Oklahoma mainly because the head coach (Coach Kruger) sat in on the main interview and I believe he made Joshua feel as if he believed in his dream to one day play basketball professionally while achieving other goals.”
Bobeth and Dwight say they are immensely proud of their son.
“We know how hard he has worked to get to this level and the commitment he has shown at a young age. We are proud that his commitment has paid off and are grateful to the Lord for his success so far on this journey,” Dwight and Bobeth say.