Ugo Oha – George Washington University

Ask George Washington University Junior Ugo Oha what she loves about basketball and there’s no hesitation: “Getting a key rebound, a key block, a key charge,” says the 6’4″ center. “Setting a perfect screen, and one of your teammates gets open and hits the shot to win the game. Leaving it all out there on the court, knowing you did your best.”

This unselfish attitude and passion for defense earned Oha Atlantic-10 Rookie of the Year honors as a freshman, and the Defensive Player of the Year award in her sophomore season as she averaged 13.1 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and ranked 7th in the nation in blocks per game.

The Houston, Texas native came to George Washington not just for the basketball, but for the opportunities the nation’s capital offered. Majoring in Criminal Justice, Oha is interested in Forensic Science, but also finds herself drawn to field of Juvenile Delinquency. “If we want to change kids into becoming productive individuals,” reflects Oha, “I think we should start there.”

While her focus is completing her degree, Oha knows there’s another future possible: the WNBA. “I want to go to the league, but I need to step up my game – add more muscle, develop my offensive skills and be more consistent.” Right now, she’s concentrating on the promise of the upcoming season.

“We have five starters back,” says Oha enthusiastically, “and this team is so close knit.” After a disappointing finish last season, a conference championship is a more than realistic goal. “I just see that fire in everybody’s eyes, that passion. The momentum changed. The focus has changed.” Clearly, the team has taken head coach Joe McKeown’s emphasis on defense to heart. “It’s to the point,” laughs Oha,” where we’re holding and grabbing and crashing and jumping over people’s backs, making sure they’re blocking out. I wish they kept stats on charges,” she adds somewhat ruefully. “I know I’d lead the team.”

With George Washington ranked nationally as high as 14th, Oha foresees a bright future for the occasionally overlooked A-10. She points to the attention Olympian and WNBA all-star Dawn Staley has brought to the conference as Temple’s coach, as well as Xavier’s upset win against Tennessee in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. “By winning that game,” explains Oha, “the A-10 got some recognition. That proves it doesn’t matter what conference you come from. It proves whatever team brings their A-game is going to win.”

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