Basketball is a billion-dollar industry. Fans, by the millions, flock to arenas during the regular seasons of the NBA and the WNBA. For years, the court gave a spotlight to some of the most prominent personalities in the industry, like Michael Jordan, Maya Moore, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, Candace Parker, and several others. As such, many youngsters aspire to play ball in world-acclaimed matches and follow the footsteps of their icons. 14-year-old Ebelechukwu Mbagwu does not fall short of this dream.
An on-the-rise superstar from Stockdale High School in Bakersfield, young Mbagwu has let loose on courts many times in her entire career. She is a starting point guard in Stockdale’s Varsity Basketball Team and Team Militant’s Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) Team. Mbagwu has played for two all-star basketball teams and crushed competitors in a county basketball match for two consecutive years. Her statistics go beyond many in her age bracket—averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
When she entered Stockdale, she immediately gained attention from her coaches and colleagues. In one intramural game, for instance, she stunned viewers with 30 points for the basket. She gained a footing in the varsity team of the campus, eventually snatching an MVP award and All-Area Honorable Mention. In 2018, she tested every male contender at the UCLA Camp for a 1v1 tournament. She was the only female participant in the competition.
She owes her inspirations to Kobe Bryant and her siblings. Growing up as the youngest of five, Mbagwu learned a lot from her elders. Her two brothers, in particular, introduced her to the sport and lay the foundation for her basketball career.
Two years ago, she got the chance to meet Kobe Bryant, a name that many fans in basketball are accustomed to hearing. “I went to a tournament in Los Angeles, unaware that his AAU team, The Mambas, were also competing in that same tournament. I was obviously very excited to see him, but so was everyone else,” recounted Mbagwu. After her game, her coach approached her, saying that Kobe wanted to talk to her. “Hearing those words come out of my coach’s mouth made my mind spin with so many emotions. I would have never thought in a million years that Kobe Bryant would ever want to talk to me.” The superstar went on to tell Mbagwu that he was impressed by her plays.
Like any other fan, hearing those words from a legend is beyond expectations. For Mbagwu, it happened twice. The next year, they met again. “To my surprise, when he saw me sitting in the bleachers, he recognized me. He walked towards me, and we had a small talk about basketball, and he asked me how things were going in my life.”
At such a young age, Mbagwu can balance her athletic pursuit and studies. Aside from obtaining a 3.8 GPA for her classes under Gifted And Talented Education (GATE), she doubles as an active member of the Black Student Union (BSU).
As a professional basketball player, Mbagwu seeks to gain on-the-field experience and theories about the game steadily. “Every day, I strive to reverse my weaknesses into strengths by continuing to work on my craft. I surround myself with positive and ambitious people so we can thrive off of each other’s goals. A ‘mutualism effect’ is what I call it.”
To know more about the rising basketball star, open her profile.