Probably one of the most underrated player’s in the Women College basketball scene, Ezinne Kalu is a guard that can dominate a game in more ways than one. Born In Newark, New Jersey, the Savannah State standout has led her team in scoring, assists and steals for two seasons in a row, and that is given the fact that she is about to enter her third year at the program. A Nigerian Junior International and co-captain, Ezinne centres her game on hard-work and a strong will to win. In the past week, TNB caught up with Ezinne for an interview where she gave us an insight into her background, how she picked up the game, her aims for the future, and more. Shout out to Ezinne for making this interview happen, and we’ll continue to follow her progress throughout the season!!!!!
TNB: Can you tell us a bit about your background and where you grew up?
Ezinne: My name is Ezinne Kalu. I am 20 years old. I was born in Newark, NJ but have traveled to Nigeria every 3 years. My father, Joseph Kalu is Nigerian. He is from Abia State. My mother, Gwendolyn Covington is from the US. I am the youngest of 4 on my mother’s side and the oldest of 3 on my fathers side. My mom and father split up around the age of 8.
TNB: When was the first time you picked up a basketball and when did you know you were going to take it seriously?
Ezinne: First time I picked up a basketball was 3rd grade. That moment I picked up that ball I knew it was the beginning to a great start.
TNB: What was your family?s attitude to you taking up the sport and who supported you the most?
Ezinne: Everyone in my family were extremely supportive of me deciding to play basketball. They felt like I could be very successful in my future endeavors.
TNB: How would you describe your game as a basketball player?
Ezinne: I would describe my game to the attitude of a Tiger. Aggressive, observant, discipline, and always a step ahead of its prey or in basketball terms my “opponent”.
TNB:You led Savannah State in scoring, assist and steals during the last two seasons, what have you worked on this summer that you would be looking to add to your game?
Ezinne: I’ve worked in becoming a better play all-around. Improving on the little things such as rebounding, defense, mid-range shots, learning to control tempo and also keeping the chemistry and environment between my team free of negativity.
TNB: Tell us about your current teammates, coaches, Staff and your aims for this season?
Ezinne: I believe we all have the same intentions for this season. To play together, stick together, play hard, and win games. So that we are able to compete in the MEAC tournament again and challenge these teams. Continue to give them more.
TNB: You were named co-captain of the Under-19 Nigerian National Team during the summer of 2011, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the team were not able to participate in the tournament, talk us through the experience, from training with your Nigerian team-mates, to finding out that the team would not be able to compete, and if you still hope of one day wearing the Nigerian colours in future?
Ezinne: First off I would like to say even being selected to play for the Nigerian National team was a GREAT honor. It was a wonderful opportunity and I was truly blessed. Being able to play with those girls, Promise/Peace Amukamara, Elem Ibiam, Loliya Briggs, Ujo Ugoka, it opened my eyes to a different level of basketball. I have learned so much from them mentally and physically. I’m quite sure they can say the same. The training was extremely exciting, it gave us a chance to get comfortable with each other and learn each others strengths and weaknesses. When we found out we were unable to compete it hurt us deeply because we all, the players and coaches, worked so hard to get us prepared for the next step. We were determined to go there and compete and put Nigerian Women’s basketball on the map. On the other hand, I do hope and pray to be able to represent the colors of Nigeria upon the completion of college. I believe it would be a great opportunity for me as well as my family. That is a road that I plan to take.
TNB: Favourite basketball player?
Ezinne: Favorite basketball player is Kobe Bryant and female Cappie Pondexter.
TNB: Game time music ?
Ezinne: I prefer any music that’s upbeat. Hip-Hop, Rap, Techno etc.
TNB: Nike or Adidas?
TNB: Last Nigerian thing you did?
Ezinne: Attended a Nigerian festival
TNB: Tell us Something random about you that?s not basketball related?
Ezinne: Something random about me besides basketball is that I’m really into fashion. I do not like to always dress in basketball shorts or t-shirts. I love heels, Jewelry and make-up.
TNB: Two seconds left in the game, your team is down by two, your centre who is not a good three point shooter is wide open for the three, everyone else is tightly guarded, you might be able to get off the three but it will be difficult, what do you do?
Ezinne: I will go to the basket to score the two pointer to tie the game. Although it will win the game, a 3-pointer is not a high percentage shot. If we tie the game we have the chance to put them away completely and win the game. That’s when the killer instinct kicks in. If my center shoots the 3 and misses she’s stuck with that mentality that “she cost us the game”. Being as though I’m the point guard on the floor and the leader I would feel more comfortable with the burden on my shoulder
TNB: Advice for female basketball players in Nigeria trying to make the transition to the States?
Ezinne: Ladies continue to work hard. Nothing in life is given to you. You have to continue to work and have a mindset that you are destined for greatness. Be better than what you were yesterday. Never let anyone tell you “You can’t do it” because that’s not true. Nothing is impossible. Expect the unexpected. But most of all STAY HUMBLE!!!..