Junior forward Tariq Balogun comes to the Bearcats as no stranger to traveling. The Eastern Kentucky transfer hails from London, England and is looking to bring some flair to the America East (AE) as a high-flying shot blocker.
“Just a little bit of swagger and having fun with it,” Balogun said. “I’m a guy that, if I’m doing well, stuff’s going well, I’m not really quiet. I get engaged, I love it and I pump it up. That’s in my system. Just having fun, but still determined.”
Balogun played three seasons with the Colonels, where he started 10 games last year, averaging 4.0 points per game and 1.4 blocks per game, which would have been tied for second in the AE last season. He maintains an unselfish style of play that he feels resonates within this BU team.
“There are no egos on this team,” Balogun said. “That’s what I like, everyone wants everyone to be good … There’s no sense of selfishness. We’re always trying to move the ball. It’s never really a thing where I’ve felt like I’m not getting the ball or this person doesn’t want me to be great. Everyone’s just happy to be here and our main goal, really, we just all really want to win.”
Though Balogun’s defensive efforts would help any team, numbers only tell half the story. The best way the London native makes an impact is through the excitement he brings to the court. Whether it’s momentum-shifting blocks or rim-rattling dunks, Balogun knows the fans at the Events Center will get on their feet if he shows them what he can do.
“Expect to see some blocks, some dunks, energy, hustle, grit, commitment,” Balogun said. “An overall guy that’s just gonna do everything I can in order to win. There’s no you without winning. You could have had three points, but if you don’t win, it’s not nearly as good.”
The Italy-born forward came a long way to upstate New York. Balogun came to the United States as a high school sophomore and then transferred to the Miller School of Albemarle in Virginia to finish out his high school career a year later.
“It’s been an interesting parallel, basketball’s taken me around to so many places,” Balogun said. “It’s taken me to many states. I’ve been almost everywhere … I’ve met so many people and now I’m in Binghamton, New York.”
After deciding to enter the transfer portal following last season, it was ultimately head coach Levell Sanders that brought Balogun to Vestal. One of the main draws to coming to BU was the ability to be a part of the foundation of the school’s resurgence in the AE.
“When I visited Binghamton, I really liked [Sanders] and how he just explained what it was from the beginning,” Balogun said. “They’re gonna push me and just gonna work me to be great … I like the school, also the environment and how New York is right there. Like it was really just the perfect school plus the education too …. It just felt like a perfect fit.”
For the Bearcat, the most satisfying play of basketball isn’t a perfectly-executed alley-oop or even a game-changing three-pointer. It’s all about making defensive fundamentals look cinematic. But, that doesn’t mean this team doesn’t appreciate the thundering dunks the 6-foot-10-inch big will ignite the Events Center with.
“A real, whole hand on [a block], the crowd always loves that,” Balogun said. “I mean, dunks, they’re gonna love that too. There’s gonna be times when I dunk on a couple of people. It’s definitely gonna be fun.”
Although Balogun has yet to play a live game at the Events Center, the free-flowing forward is counting down the days until he can show off and hear the roar of the Binghamton University faithful.
“I’m definitely excited about the crowd, and I know we got good fans,” Balogun said. “I’ve met some of the fans, and some alumni too already. The energy has been great, everyone’s excited, so I really just can’t wait to get out and just show what we got and what we’ve been working on.”