RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Iffy Okoye has only been playing basketball since she was 15 years old, and has only been in the United States since 2017. She moved stateside from Lagos, Nigeria, in an effort to get a better education and play basketball.
Okoye attended Banner Christian during her senior season, getting acclimated to the USA and to how the game is played in America. She admits it’s harder and takes more work to be successful on the court than it did in Nigeria. Okoye says there’s certainly homesickness that comes with being thousands of miles away from her family, but teammates and friends have helped her through.
Now a freshman at Virginia Union, Okoye is showing that she’s settling into basketball at the college level. She’s posted double-doubles in each of her last three games, scored a career-high 20 points in a November 24 win against Barry, and was named this week’s CIAA Rookie of the Week. Okoye is averaging 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest and has become a more well-rounded player since shifting to the college level.
The forward is a key part to Virginia Union’s success. The Panthers are 11-1 on the season and ranked 12th in the the country. They’re searching for back-to-back CIAA championships and their third in the last four seasons.
Okoye says she doesn’t have any basketball aspirations beyond college, but VUU head coach AnnMarie Gilbert says her remaining three and a half years could certainly be exciting. Gilbert thinks that her freshman forward has conference player of the year and All-American potential by the time the book is closed on her college career.
Okoye and Virginia Union battle Shaw on Thursday on the road.