Thursday, November 4, 2010

Exclusive interview with coach Ozell Wells. His unbelievable World Record: his career has taken him over 47 countries, from China to Brunei!!

Ozell Wells is the coach of the Brunei Barracudas playing the ASEAN Basketball League (aka ABL). But the story of the Detroit native is unbelievable!
He grew up on the North-East side of the city (Ozell also holds a Dominican passport though) and spent a considerable portion of his youth involved in competitive sports. Ozell's high school years were spent at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan. As a direct result of Ozell's academic interests, and proficiency, he was offered academic scholarships to nearly every school in the United States: Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, University of Michigan, UCLA and North Carolina. During Ozell's freshman year, he met and befriended Charles Turner, Head men's basketball coach at University of Michigan-Dearborn. After close discussion with former Michigan and NBA player Mark Hughes, Ozell decided to assist the Grand Rapids Hoops of the CBA, where Hughes was coaching the team. It was with the experience gained there, and after receiving his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1999, he embarked on what soon became a professional basketball coach. Ozell Wells career has taken him over 47 countries to date, ranging from China to Yemen, from Estonia to Brunei.

Ozell, your story is amazing. Maybe you have a world record that it's worth to be told. Tell our readers how was it possible you have visited and worked in 47 countries so far as a basketball coach.

Not sure if they have such a record. I do however know of a few other coaches who would rank higher on the totem pole if there was such a record in existence. Terry Layton, Scott Fields and Rajko Toroman are a few of them. My last stop is with Barracudas in Brunei, where I am one of the coaches and I am really comfortable over here experiencing the competitive ASEAN Basketball League.

Now we are really curious. In your incredible journey with basketball, tell us about your experiences, from the funniest to the scariest you had in so many different areas of the planet.

WOW! Well the scariest would definitely be the beheading in Saudi Arabia, the hanging in Syria or being in Tijuana Mexico when the Drug War with the USA began. I was on the streets in my car the day that they arrested over 1,000 people and then also for the ensuing war on the city streets that carried on for weeks afterward and is still unresolved.
Funniest experiences would have to be when I was home in Dominican Republic, coaching in Santiago and was approached by 3 different females who claimed to be the mothers of 3 different baby boys all bearing the same name, due to the fact that they claimed to be impregnated by him, the same player! Now all three of the women, with babies in hand, were standing in a practice that was in session, all yelling and imploring me to provide the contact info for this player.

No one can witness but you how basketball and sports in general are a real language between different races and cultures: what are the most interesting stories off the court thus far and where. Moreover which are the places you liked the most?

Well, my return to the Middle East, as coach of the National Team of Yemen was something that I will never forget. We were participating in the Arab Championships, and I was greeted by basketball official after official and referee after referee whom I remembered from when I started coaching internationally way back in 2000. I was even named "Altruistic Basketball Missionary Teaching the game to the Basketball Underpriveleged" by my friends at ART Television, who broadcasted the games across the Asian Region. I can say that I love so many places, but none more than my home of Dominican Republic. I have become partial to Estonia, in Eastern Europe, but it is always the ties that bind ..being the DR because I have a basketball school there, and am partnering with 3 of the best coaches on the island to create another academy in the coming year.

What's your next challenge as a coach?

The next challenge for me is to be in Estonia, as I have founded a Sport Club in the country and we are currently playing in the Estonian Kossulliga. It has always been a dream of mine to run a club, but this is a bit different, as we are founded to be a culturally benefitting organization and have many things in place to benefit the community, the youth, the elderly and effect an overall change in the way of living for those in Estonia. I will rejoin my club once the season has concluded here in Brunei.


  1. As a good friend, I know you, Coach Wells, certainly made an outstanding impact on the sport of basketball. You've touched the lives of many players, kids, cities and villages. You are one of a kind and anyone who has the privilege of knowing and interacting, and learning from you is all that more fortunate. May your travels be safe, prayers be strong, Detroit awaits you!

  2. Coach Wells is the best ever, Passion, Wisdom, Charisma with the Fans and lots of respect from both his team and the opponents (always). I must say that he Impacted Tijuana Mx as no other Basketball Coach has ever done!!. Blessings Coach Wells.
    You will always have a home Called "Tijuana Mx".

    1. With Best Regards (Jose Quintero) Tijuana Mx.