By Longwood University Athletics, with additional reporting by ITGNext
Longwood University, Virginia women’s basketball forward Otaifo Esenabhalu has been named Big South Conference Freshman of the Week, the league announced on Monday.
Esenabhalu averaged three points and 8.5 rebounds per game as the Lancers dropped games at James Madison, 84-50, Wednesday and Clemson, 102-63, Sunday.
A 6-foot-2 native of Valdosta, Ga., Esenabhalu pulled down a game- and career-high 15 boards against the Dukes, the most by a Longwood player since Akila Smith corralled 19 in a 70-61 win over Hampton on March 3, 2022.
Through five games – all starts – Esenabhalu is averaging 4.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, while shooting 10-for-31 (32.3 percent) from the floor. She is fifth in the league in rebounding.
Longwood (1-4) is back in action Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Ohio. The game, streamed on ESPN+, is slated for a 7 p.m., tip at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
Otaifo is the daughter of Nigerian born Professor Victor Esenabhalu, Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at SGSC, Athens, Georgia, United States.
Esenabhalu was born in New York before moving to Minnesota with her parents, Victor and Lucy Esenabhalu. Her parents are from Nigeria, and her name is taken from Nigerian culture and means, “Do what you do best.”
She played one year of high school basketball in Minnesota, at Faribault High. As a freshman for the Lady Falcons, she was the team’s third leading scorer, averaging 5.7 points per game, with a single game high of 12 points. She also averaged three rebounds per game.
Tookes actually called her coach there at Faribault to get the scouting report on her new player, and to inquire about her strengths.
“The Faribault coach remarked how much they missed her, and how she was really coming into her own as just a freshman,” said Tookes.
The Vikettes coach said she was delighted to get a player the caliber of Esenabhalu, and all of her qualities that she brought to the team.
“We were lacking in height, and really needed help with our rebounding, and she fit that need in a big way,” said Tookes.
Tookes added that Esenabhalu had the intangibles that separate the good ones from the great ones.
“She works hard at practice, then stays afterwards to work on her game. That’s one of the things that really stands out with her,” said Tookes.
Esenabhalu led the Vikettes in rebounding and blocks this season and was a first team All- Region selection in 1-AAAAAAA. Tookes added that Esenabhalu plans to play for a top AAU program this summer, and that will make her a more complete player for her upcoming senior season.
There are several schools that have inquired to Tookes about her star post/center player, and the coach says that college basketball is most certainly in her future, if that’s what she decides to do. What does our Athlete of The Month think about that?
“I definitely hope to play college basketball, and maybe in the WNBA after that,” said Esenabhalu.
If she doesn’t make it to pro basketball, she has a solid back up plan.
“I want to become a lawyer,” Esenabhalu said.
Just do what you do best, Esenabhalu.
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