A WALK WITH A HAWK ... FEATURING: ALEXIS UDOJI
Dec. 6, 2012
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - For University of Maryland Eastern Shore head women's basketball coach, Fred Batchelor, defense is everything. The Lady Hawks have ranked among the best in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in nearly every season he has been at the helm. The team has had several noteworthy post players on its roster in each of the past few seasons, but were faced with many vacancies to begin the 2012-13 year.
Due to graduation and a change in team dynamic, the team was faced with having some big shoes to fill. It was almost as having to start over as nearly 70-percent of its rebounding totals and all but 15 of its blocked shots from last season were gone.
It was a difficult challenge for Batchelor. But it was one that he handled appropriately.
Batchelor did not change his approach this season as he has brought in four new post players. The group has made different impacts this season, but none has been as evident as that of freshman center Alexis Udoji (Randolph, Mass.).
After five games, Udoji has a team-high 10 blocks and 25 rebounds. She has played in every game this year and started in all but one. The freshman is fourth on the team with 24 minutes-per-game and is among the leaders in points. Udoji was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week for the week of Nov. 19, after she notched 11 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in UMES' 66-62 victory over Elizabeth City State.
She is very reminiscent to a young Adobi Agbasi; a well-respected student-athlete with a long, lean and athletic body.
Although just a freshman, she is no stranger to Lady Hawk basketball. She sat out last season, but has learned a lot from her predecessors. She spent a lot of time with the team in 2011 and focused her mind on being prepared this year. Udoji explained that UMES is the right place for her.
"I fell in love with the family environment at UMES," said Udoji. "This is my home away from home."
Her quest to UMES was spearheaded by a strong prep career. She accomplished many things growing up, but her athletic career at Cardinal Spellman High School was nothing short of legendary.
While at CSHS, she was named Central Catholic League Most Valuable Player at Cardinal Spellman in 2011 and averaged a triple-double in each of her last three seasons. Udoji was honored as The Enterprise Player of the Year and Boston Herald All-Scholastic and All-Star in 2011. Her performance helped guide Cardinal Spellman to the CCL Championships her senior year when she notched 31 points, 16 blocks and 13 rebounds in the title game. She set a program-record with 20 blocked shots in one game as a sophomore.
What does she attribute her success to?
Udoji had several things to focus on when she was younger. She has come from a family of seven and has a great relationship with them.
"I am the oldest of five," said Udoji. "Being the oldest, I have to be a role model for my siblings. I have to set the proper example for them to aspire to be greater than me. That is my biggest motivation."
The Randolph, Mass., product has a unique personality that has allowed her to discover several different passions. Udoji wants to pursue a career in forensic science and is majoring in Criminal Justice. She played soccer growing up and likes quotes from Pope Benedict XVI. She also loves a stuffed animal named "Lotso", who goes with her everywhere.
It is shopping though, that keeps her going when she is away from the court.
"Shopping is one of my main hobbies," said Udoji. "I like finding new fashion ideas and incorporating them into my own style. I also love brand names. I know my labels like the back of my hand."
Udoji plans to play professional basketball overseas following her career at UMES. She also has aspirations of being a model if she does not end up in forensic science.
As of now, her focus is on continuing to help the women's basketball team win. Her addition, along with the strong play of several returners, will make for an exciting team to watch in 2013.
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