Eugene Omoruyi returned to familiar territory when the Wizards met the Toronto Raptors for their final preseason game on Friday night. Omoruyi is a proud Nigerian-Canadian who was born in Benin City, Nigeria and immigrated to Canada with his family as a one-year-old.
So when he stepped into Scotiabank Arena, he was right back in a place he knows very well.
“I grew up in a small neighborhood in Toronto,” Omoruyi explained. “A lot of people don’t make it from where I came from. It’s kind of the slums so every time I get an opportunity to come on that court, I’m not playing for just myself, I’m playing for everybody back home.”
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Although the Raptors matchup did not go in the Wizards favor, Omoruyi entered the game in the fourth quarter and made his presence known. In just twelve minutes, he ended the night as the Wizards second highest-scorer with 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
He had a similar performance in the first preseason game against the Cairns Taipans with another 16-point showing in 12 minutes.
“I’m always ready to compete. I compete at a very high level and I do anything I can just to win and I come out and give my heart every time I step on the court,” Omoruyi said at practice the next day.
Signed to the Wizards on a two-way contract, Omoruyi has something to prove. His existing relationship with Wizards general manager Will Dawkins, who he calls a “father figure,” from his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder along with the performance he has been able to put up in the preseason could earn him a roster spot.
“I’m very familiar with a few faces here,” Omoruyi said. “So it was a great opportunity to come here. And I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to play basketball every day. So that’s the biggest thing for me.”