Sometime last summer, Braxton Ogbueze (Og-Boo-EE-ZAY) severely fractured a bone his left wrist.
But as the United Faith junior point guard competed on the AAU circuit, in camps and at tournaments, he played through the pain in his non-shooting hand (and wrist) - not even realizing he was injured.
When the pain persisted, and even worsened, Ogbueze, 16, had an MRI on his hand and wrist. The scan revealed the fracture, and doctors told him the best way to fix it would be to make a clean break, then let it heal.
"It was painful just not being able to play basketball every day," Ogbueze said. "I still kept my conditioning up running and doing what I could in the weight room. But it drove me crazy to not be able to do what I love - playing basketball."
Ogbueze's wrist procedure included a bone graft, where the doctors took some bone from his hip to fix his wrist.
While some would use the resulting discomfort as an excuse to relax, Ogbueze used it as motivation to work as hard as he could to get back on the court.
"A lot of players, even good ones, would have used (a broken wrist) as an excuse to do nothing and be lazy," United Faith basketball coach Shaun Wiseman said. "But it killed Braxton not to be able to do things full-speed for a while. He worked harder than a lot of guys played when they are healthy."
Ogbueze, a consensus top-50 recruit who recently was ranked No. 43 in the junior class by ESPN and No. 2 in the state, was forced to miss the first part of the Falcons' season, coming back just before Christmas.
That wait was even more difficult for Ogbueze after he transferred from Vance (where he averaged 20 ppg) last year, and shifted from playing shooting guard to point guard.
"He went from being an undersized two-guard to one of the best point guards in the country," Wiseman said.
Since his return, Ogbueze is averaging nearly 19 points per game on a United Faith team (26-5 through Feb. 10) that quickly is becoming one of the Charlotte area's best teams, getting national attention as the No. 24 team in ESPN's latest prep poll. The Falcons are 19-2 since Ogbueze returned to the lineup.
"I really enjoy coaching Braxton," Wiseman said. "He is not only one of our best players, but he is also our hardest worker. He brings it every day, whether it's practice, pickup or a regular game. He never changes the way he plays. I think the other kids follow his example."
Ogbueze got attention when he scored 31 points as a junior guard to lead his team past former-No. 1 Oak Hill Academy (Va.) 90-88 in January. The Falcons were the first team in Charlotte history to beat Oak Hill, who has produced many top college basketball players in the last two decades.
"Being the first team from Charlotte to ever beat Oak Hill is a big deal," said Wiseman, who says he had a 150 text messages and calls within 24 hours of the win, from coaches, players and friends. "Braxton was at his very best against one of the best teams in the country. I think that speaks for itself."
Ogbueze quickly is moving up the charts of a lot of college recruiters, as he currently has offers from at least a dozen schools including Kansas, Oklahoma, Stanford, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
But while Ogbueze says he is excited about the recruiting process and what it will mean for his future, he also is focused on the present at United Faith.
That includes playing with another great shooting guard in Paris Roberts-Campbell, who not only averages 24 points per game but has signed with East Carolina.
Ogbueze hopes United Faith can make a run at a third straight N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 1A state championship.
"At the end of the day, you want to be a winner," Ogbueze said. "We have a great chance to do some great things (at United Faith) in the next month."