Student Stories

“It’s every basketball player’s dream to play in the States” – Alhassan Barrie

From the day that Alhassan could hold a basketball in his hands as a little boy, he dreamt of playing basketball in America. “It’s every basketball player’s dream to play in the States,” he adds with a big smile.

His dream came true when he was placed with a scholarship at Northern Oklahoma Community College by UStudy in the fall of 2015. After two years he transferred to Goshen College in Indiana, where he received the prestigious All-American honor for student-athletes and earned his bachelor’s degree in International Business Studies.

With the help of UStudy, the application process went smoothly. “Thanks to Marina I knew all the steps of the application process. She has a lot of knowledge about the American school system. Without the help of UStudy I would have not made it to where I am now.”

“In America sports and studies go hand in hand,”

The decision to move to the States was easy for Alhassan. “In America sports and studies go hand in hand,” he explains. He wanted to play with the best players, be coached by the best coaches, and surrounded by the best facilities while simultaneously getting the most out his studies with all the support he needed from his professors, tutors, and academic advisors.

Although student-athletes get all the help they need, playing basketball in the States also comes at a price. For Alhassan, it meant getting up at 5 am to train in the gym, then attending classes, having meetings or film sessions in between, going to classes again, practicing until 7 or 8 pm, eating dinner with his teammates, and ending the day with study or tutor sessions. Fortunately, there was time in the off-season to enjoy the full college experience. He would hang out with friends, watch some Netflix, go shopping at Walmart, or go to a bar or a house party.

But in the end, Alhassan was glad to pay that “price”. At Goshen College he really felt connected with his teammates, his friends, coaches and professors, and even with his school. Alhassan smiles again and says: “That small-town USA feeling and school pride really gave you a sense of belonging and it made me feel part of something bigger, that is something that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

International basketball experience 

Born in Sierra Leone, raised in Belgium, and having played basketball in many different countries, Alhassan’s international experiences have been wide and varied. After getting his diploma, he moved back to Europe to play professional basketball at Hamburg, Germany and he currently plays for The Hague Royals in the Netherlands. However, ask him about his favorite experience, and he will, without a doubt, answer the United States.


Help young basketball players fulfill their dream!

He fell in love with the American culture – the openness, the genuine interest, the “grind” mentality, the school pride, and yes… even the comfortable clothing and the free-refills. Even though he has fulfilled his own dream, he would like to move back to the States one day, so that he can help other youth basketball players fulfill the exact same dream that he had when he was a little kid. Like the Americans say: “he sure ain’t done yet.”

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