A WALK WITH A HAWK ... FEATURING - ADOBI AGBASI
Feb. 2, 2012
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – There is a silent quest that is occurring on the campus of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. It’s one that is on the verge of making a significant historical impact.
It’s from the footsteps of one of our very own.
The journey is making its way through the record book of UMES; a certain quest that has prevailed despite bumps, bruises and several bouts of adversity. The monumental achievements may come as a surprise to many as it has nothing to do with points scored, games played or assists-per-game.
In a sport where offense has become the name of the game, this silent leader distinguishes herself from a defensive point of view.
To start, this Hawk athlete stands just 46 blocks shy of the UMES women’s basketball blocks record.
Continuing on, she is on track to be the third Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player in the past decade to finish the season ranked in the top-10 of all Division I programs in blocks-per-game. The 6’1 forward is also on pace to finish the year as the only player from a Maryland Division I institution to receive a top-10 ranking in blocks-per-game across the past 10 years. She is also the current UMES record holder in blocks-per-game across her career as a Hawk.
Without further adieu, allow me to introduce to you, women’s basketball senior forward Adobi Agbasi.
“Dobi” is an American-born Nigerian and is the only daughter of two parents from Awka, Anambra, Nigeria; a town just over 150 miles from the capital city of Lagos. Both of Agbasi’s parents were born and raised in Nigeria, where they spent the majority of their lives until moving to the United States 30 years ago.
Her basketball career began at a young age, when she was involved in Boys and Girls club basketball. She would soon go on to play AAU basketball with the Georgia Blazers and Georgia Jaguars.
She enrolled at Carver High School in her hometown of Columbus, Ga., in 2004, where she was a tri-sport athlete in volleyball, track & field and basketball. Her progression in sports was seen each year, particularly in her senior year, where she averaged 17 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks per game.
Her performance was seen by many Division I programs, but it was her effort at an AAU tournament in Tennessee that caught the attention of the UMES coaching staff.
“We saw her as a fierce shot blocker,” said head coach Fred Batchelor. “She can change the game defensively and she fits in around the basket. She had an incredible attitude.”
Agbasi, who is an avid artist, has always been a sound basketball player with a tremendous upside. She had the ability to play basketball at the Division I level, but it was Batchelor’s first conversation with her that cemented the journey to Princess Anne.
“The first time I talked with her I fell in love with her,” said Batchelor. “I immediately had a connection with her and her family. The bond between us is going to be a lifelong friendship. Her father has told me I am her father away from home and she is like a daughter to me.”
The decision was one that neither party would grow to regret.
She was a defensive standout from her first games as a Hawk, where she posted six blocks against Syracuse and finished her freshman season ranked second in the MEAC in blocks-per-game.
The early success was fine, but her career was about to take a hiatus, as an injury would halt basketball temporarily.
She began to suffer complications of a chronic left-shoulder subluxation, which in laymen’s terms is the frequent occurrence of the upper arm bone slipping out of the shoulder socket. The injury caused the shoulder to be multi-directional and unstable, but the pain was not going to stop Agbasi from stepping back onto the court.
“There is no way we could have kept her off the court during that time,” said Batchelor. “She loves the game of basketball with all of her heart. She has a passion for the game and is always competitive. She was going to play through it regardless.”
Agbasi would struggle to begin the season but would grind it out for the rest of the year. She would appear in 24 games that season, while starting in five.
The injury became so frequent that season, that the only alternative was to undergo a surgery to tighten the muscles around the shoulder capsule. It was an experience that allowed the forward to grow as a person, athlete and teammate.
“The injury made me cherish basketball like I never have before, “said Agbasi. “I remember being very emotional and counting down the days until I would be able to play again. The entire process took nine months and it was really hard sitting and watching those first 10 games of 2010.”
She would return from the injury a quarter of the way through the next season, but despite the surgery, would still favor her left-shoulder. It was here where she learned that the injury would be a battle, both physically and mentally. She participated in a strenuous rehabilitation program, developed confidence, and worked harder than ever before.
It was at this moment in her life where she learned to have faith.
“At times, it can be really easy to lose faith,” offered Agbasi. “Our coaches teach us to keep the faith and keep our will. It’s something I have learned to grasp and I’ve found good results come to those who work hard.”
Fast forward to the present and Agbasi is on the brink of making history.
Performance wise, she is one of the leading players in UMES’ second ranked MEAC defense. It is her efforts that have propelled the squad to stand second in blocks (86), blocks-per-game (4.5) and points-allowed (1,064).
It is certain that the change of pace in Agbasi’s career has led to a successful senior season so far. Her presence as a silent leader has rallied the women’s basketball team as the squad is poised to continue its solid play within the MEAC.
As for now, the women stand in fifth-place in the conference with several noteworthy games on the upcoming schedule. The future for the team cannot truly be judged, but no matter what happens; UMES can learn something from Agbasi’s story.
Good things come to those who wait.
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