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    Ezinne Kalu The Nigerian Queen’s Game And Life Are Synonymous

    The New Jersey native, Ezinne Kalu, is a name many should know; however, many don’t. She’s flown under the radar for a while due to her lack of exposure. Kalu grew up in Newark, New Jersey, to be specific. Growing up she rarely played any sports nor was she interested in them initially. However, while she was in second grade many of her friends began to become more active. Ultimately, this led Kalu to pick up a basketball, and the rest is history. While most players who start out playing usually have a role model or someone they look up to; however, at the time there were limited women being shown playing basketball. She relied on her friends to purely be her motivation to play and be good at the sport. Later, Ezinne Kalu was introduced to the WNBA and became familiar with and then modeled her game after theirs.

    Let’s HypeFresh’s interview with Ezinne Kalu:

    Background Information:

    Which part of New Jersey did you grow up in?

    Ezinne Kalu: I grew up in Newark, New Jersey on 17th street and 18th ave.

    At what age did you begin getting involved in sports?

    EK: I became active in 2nd grade, I didn’t want to be involved in sports initially. However, my friends begin playing and I thought I can do it.

    Who or what inspired you to pick up a basketball in particular?

    EK: At the time I didn’t see any women who were playing until my coach introduced me to it. Later, I watched those players and they were motivated by their style of play. It forced me to get better.

    What part of the game would you say came naturally to you?

    EK: The defense always came naturally. The defense came naturally because it doesn’t take much talent, however, it does take heart and will. My favorite part of the game was getting a full-court press because my teams always fed into my style of play. I love the scrappy and “junkyard dog” mentality.

    Is there anyone you’ve studied to model your game after?

    EK: I often watched Kemba Walker growing up. Our games in my eyes have similarities; however, I don’t think our game is identical. His offense tends to have fast pacing and quick quirky jerky movements. Not to mention, I always loved watching Kobe Bryant as well.

    At what point throughout your career was your “Sh3GotGame” moment?

    EK: My “Sh3Gotgme” moment was my full ride to Savanna State University. Understanding, my parents couldn’t afford to pay for school. So seeing my hard work pay off really helped my confidence and was truly fulfilling.

    Ezinne Kalu’s High School and College Career:

    Fast forward, a little you attended Science Park High School. You were the first woman to score over 2,000 points and shortly after your jersey was retired. How much did this mean for your basketball legacy?

    EK: It shocked me for starters, but I made history by becoming the first woman to do that. As well as getting my jersey retired while still playing. The feeling was indescribable and unimaginable. I’m just honored.

    In 2010, you went on to commit to Savanna State University. How was the atmosphere from being in Newark, NJ to now being in Georgia?

    EK: Tons of people were surprised I chose to commit to a school in Georgia. However, this situation helped me prepare for adversity and helped me adapt to my surroundings. I became comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    How much different was the HBCU atmosphere and how did it help shape you to be Ezinne Kalu today?

    EK: It humbled me because I realized how great I was but I had to become even greater by being surrounded by other great and talented individuals. Sadly, I often played down my competition.

    You went on to find success at the college level by not only winning the MEAC championship but also scoring another 2,000 career points. Which accolade had more impact in your opinion?

    EK: The college hit a little differently. First, to score 2000 at an all-black school and I was speechless! It’s cool to be celebrated for something you truly love doing. However, my greatest accomplishment was winning the National Championship at the MEAC conference. It meant so much, especially coming off an ACL injury.

    Conclusion:

    Is there any advice you’d like to offer to any young boys or girls who may look up to you or resonate with your journey?

    EK: To my young girls and boys, please go hard at whatever you want to do. If you have a dream, please always fight for it. Always stay true to yourself and never compare your success to others via social media.

    Thank you for your time and I wish you all the best!

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