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Chantel Osahor flashes a huge smile almost throughout the entire practice at Bankers LIfe Fieldhouse Saturday. Washington held its final practice before Sunday's Final Four game with Syracuse Saturday afternoon at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, April 2, 2016.

Could Osahor be the key to Nigeria’s quest for a third FIBA Africa Women’s title?

Chantel Osahor flashes a huge smile during practice before the 2016 Final Four against Syracuse. (Image: Seattletimes.com)

One way of knowing you are a star basketball player is using the Brandon Armstrong Spoof-o-meter. You know you are larger-than-life when Armstrong, a basketball impersonator and former NBA D’League player, makes a video imitating your on-court mannerisms.

Chantel Osahor definitely got a pass mark based on that yardstick, joining the likes of Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James to be so featured.

Osahor’s unorthodox style of shooting the ball, which she fires-off her fingers while standing flat-footed, caught the eye of Armstrong and college basketball fans. It may not be a picture-perfect shooting form, but the fact that it gets buckets makes it a beautiful sight to watch. More so, Osahor’s style has impacted on her shooting efficiency through the years, going from 2.7 points per game (.423%) in her freshman year to 15.8ppg (.482%) as a senior. Her style also got her a short documentary on ESPN’s Sport Science with John Brenkus (video below). The 6’2 forward/center for the University of Washington Women’s Basketball, the Huskies, also improved on her perimeter shooting, going from 35% to 38% on 3PT.

Osahor’s offensive attributes, quite impressive, coupled with prototypical passing skills of a point guard, are not even her strongest weapons. Her greatest accomplishments are as a result of her dominance in the paint, especially in the rebounds category, where she has earned a name as Master of the Boards. Her feats on the glass includes a career-high 30 rebounds on January 22, 2017 against Washington State, in which she added 20 points to record a double-double in a 87-44 win against the Cougars.

“I feel like I kind of just do that every game,” Osahor said in reaction to her career night on the boards.

Huskies Head Coach Mike Neighbors believes Osahor is making rebounding both an art and her specialty even though her signature set-shot was what made her popular among fans.

“It’s what she works for; it’s how she wants to be identified. She wants the 3-point shot to not be what people want to talk about and imitate,” Neighbors said in an interview with USA Today after the game.

Mar 27, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Washington Huskies forward Chantel Osahor (0) celebrates cutting down the net after the game against the Stanford Cardinal in the finals of the Lexington regional of the women’s NCAA Tournament at Rupp Arena. Washington defeated Stanford 85-76. (Image: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports)

In her junior year, Osahor led the Huskies to the NCAA Final Four appearance, the first ever in school history, where they lost to Syracuse 59-80.

She went into the 2017 NCAA Women’s Tournament as the nation’s leader in double-doubles with 28, while averaging 15.7 points and 15.4 rebounds per game her entire senior season.

Osahor played the full 40 minutes in the third round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship on Friday night, scoring 17 points with 11 rebounds and 2 steals as her Number 3 seeded Huskies fell 64-75 to Number 2 seeded Mississippi State. Previously, on Monday night, she was three assists shy of a triple-double, registering 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists in 37 minutes as Huskies defeated Oklahoma University Sooners 108-82.

Huskies’ Head Coach thinks Osahor’s stats in some games can be described as “video game numbers”.

“I just don’t think anyone could have expected the production she’s given us. Those numbers are mind-blowing. I’ve learned not to doubt that kid. When she gets her mind set on something, there’s no telling what she can produce,” Neighbors said.

Osahor was born in Phoenix, Arizona to Nigerian parents, Dennis and Vicky Osahor, giving her claims to dual citizenship – USA by birth, and Nigeria by ancestry.

Earlier in her college career, she was unsure of pursuing a professional career in basketball. That seems to have changed as her name is being thrown into the 2017 WNBA Draft mentions.

“I do want to play. Having the confidence in my game, knowing I can contribute to a team in the WNBA. There are not a lot of players like me. I do think I can help a team,” she said.

Image courtesy Chantel Osahor (via Facebook)

Huskies’ Neighbors is confident of Osahor’s abilities to make significant contributions to a WNBA team, noting that her style of basketball would also require finding a right team with a coach that understands her uniqueness.

“If she can find a coach that believes in her as much as I do, and teammates that understand what she brings to the table, she will be great. I don’t think there is any question that she makes everybody on her team better. There isn’t a pro coach out there who couldn’t use somebody like her,” Neighbors said.

Could the Nigeria Senior Women’s Basketball Team, somehow, use the talents of a player of Osahor’s calibre, seeing as the country has achieved minimal success since 2005 when it last won an African title?

There is no question to that need, particularly as Veteran Center Olayinka Sanni, who won a title with the Detroit Shock in her rookie season in the WNBA turns 31 this summer and may be needing a solid player to pass the torch to in the not-too-distant future.

While both players have similarities in their game, Osahor is an absolute beast on the boards and there is no doubt that Osahor would fit in pretty well in the post position for the Nigerian team. Sanni is more of a mid-range and back-to-the-basket post-player, while Osahor is capable of stretching the floor with her perimeter shooting to complement her dominance in the paint.

Adding Osahor to the team would, also, ease the burden of rebounding on Ndidi Madu, a 6’2 forward, whose offensive energy and efficiency in the front court is non-negligible.

Two prime factors would determine if Osahor will be representing Nigeria at the FIBA Africa Women’s Championship this summer – if the coaching department of the women’s team contact her, and if Osahor accepts an invitation to play for her ancestral homeland.

Would that happen? Only time can tell.

Landing Osahor on the Nigerian squad will no doubt add flavour to the African championship with her unique style of shooting. As she was quoted in one of her interviews, while commenting on her style of shooting:

“I think my shot is pretty nice looking, to be honest. Just because I don’t jump doesn’t mean it isn’t good form. My form is good.”

This writer agrees with her; if it goes down into the basket, her form is good.

 

Highlights of Osahor’s career at University of Washington (courtesy gohuskies.com):

  • Washington’s all-time leading rebounder

  • All-Pac-12 selection (2017)

  • 2016 NCAA Lexington Regional MVP

  • Became just second player in program history to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds

  • Broke UW single-season rebounding record

  • Ann Meyers Drysdale midseason list

  • Finalist for Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy

  • Recorded Pac-12 record 30 rebounds (Jan. 22)

  • Pulled down Pac-12 Tournament record 27 rebounds (March 3)

  • Three-time Pac-12 Player of the Week (Nov. 28, Jan. 23, Feb. 6)

  • Named All-Pac-12 honorable mention (2016, 2017)

  • One of just four players in UW history to have a 20 rebound game

  • Has recorded 39 career double-doubles, which is second-most in program history

  • First triple-double ever in UW Women’s Basketball history with 11pts 21rbs 10ast on Nov. 22 2016

  • Two-time Tribune’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year  (2012 & 2013)

  • 2012 National Champion (St. Mary’s High School, AZ)

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Adekunle Binuyo
Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.
Adekunle Binuyo
Adekunle Binuyo

About Adekunle Binuyo

Just a fanatical hoop head lost in the art and science of the game.

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