BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — She’s one of the best players on one of the best teams in the state.
At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Onye Osemenam is a leader for Class A, No. 1-ranked Maranatha Christian Academy. With a year to go in her high school career, she’s already set a team record for blocks.
“She’s not what you would call a gentle giant. She’ll go after it inside. And she has tremendous timing with the blocks,” said Coach Jim Hammond.
“If somebody is being aggressive and physical on the other end and I block their shot, it makes me feel better. Then I get excited a little bit,” said Onye.
Onye’s parents came to the U.S. from Nigeria. Her dad was a soccer player and was hoping she would follow suit. Instead of kicking soccer balls, Onye decided to block basketballs.
“I was tall for my age so it worked out and I’ve been playing ever since and I love it,” said Onye.
It’s worked out pretty well for Maranatha too. Onye was all-conference as an eighth-grader. Last March, she helped the Mustangs to their first state title in school history.
But instead of being content, Onye and her teammates are looking for a repeat. At 6-2, she’s a big part of that push, as she’s averaging 15 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks per game. Good numbers, but her coach believes they would be much higher if she were on a team without as many scorers.
“She would be in her second year of averaging 20 points a game. She would probably be at 1,500 rebounds for her career. The numbers would be astronomical,” said Hammond.
For Onye, there is skill and pride in timing the perfect block.
“It’s kind of like when you go in for a kill in volleyball, you have to get the timing right because either the ball is too low or too high,” said Onye.
For Maranatha, it’s been just right. The team goal at this point remains obvious.
“To win it again. To win another state championship with the four seniors on the team. That would be great because they have put a lot of work into it,” said Onye.
Onye has already reached 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 points for her career. Several Big 10 Conference schools have shown an interest in her, and she’s only a junior.
Onye is also a straight-A student. Coach Hammond calls her a perfectionist, and he said some nights he has to tell her to go home and just do nothing because she’s always working on her game or studying.