Interest in Pallotti basketball player heats up

When the discussion turns to girls high school basketball prospects in the Baltimore-Washington area, St. Vincent Pallotti rising junior Beverly Ogunrinde is part of the conversation.

Ogunrinde, a 5-foot-11 power forward, proved her value this summer.

Playing in her second season for the D.C. Heat, a highly competitive AAU team that travels as far away as Georgia and Tennessee to compete, she averaged 15 points and 11 rebounds in 38 games.

Production like that gets noticed.

D.C. Heat coach Jay Nolan said Ogunrinde has piqued the interest of about 15 college programs, including the Texas, Oklahoma and St Bonaventure universities.

But the attention from colleges started before summer.

Pallotti coach Josh Pratt said Ogunrinde began getting noticed this past winter — her first with the Panthers after transferring from High Point High School in Beltsville.

A few standout performances in the Bullis Holiday Classic seemed to be the spark for all that attention.

"N.C. State and Maryland are two schools whose radar she is on," said Pratt, who noted he expects Ogunrinde to commit to a school next summer "She is definitely a Division I player. It will be up to her and how much she improves as to what college level she will play."

Ogunrinde, a College Park resident, has sharply focused on improving her game so she can get those coveted college scholarship offers.

She started lifting weights five days a week after the high school season ended in February and continues her rigorous workouts this summer.

Ogunrinde has also been working on improving her ball-handling skills daily with her brother at a court near her house.

But both of her coaches say adding strength will be the key to elevating her game.

Ogunrinde has clearly received that message.

"I didn't start lifting weights until my tenth-grade year," she said. "I didn't know you are supposed to work out. I definitely needed to get stronger for the position I play. Now, I am really much stronger."

Nolan said he has seen tremendous growth in Ogunrinde since last summer.

A big reason has been her winning attitude.

"She has stepped it up big time," Nolan said. "She is just getting better and better every day. She wants to get better and she is putting in the extra work. She just loves playing the game and wants to be good."

Ogunrinde enjoyed a standout first season playing center at Pallotti.

She averaged nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots for a team that finished 17-8.

That success came after a freshman year at High Point, where she averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds per game and also played volleyball.

Ogunrinde could see more time on the wing for Pallotti this winter with the addition of two transfers, who are front court players: 6-foot-2 Leah Whitehead (Arundel) and 6-foot Lo Chaney (Riverdale Baptist).

"She is athletic as hell," Pratt said. "She can get up and down the floor and she has a good mid-range jump shot."

"Potential" is an adjective that most often comes up when Ogunrinde's coaches talk about her.

She didn't start playing basketball until the seventh grade at Martin Luther King Middle School in Beltsville.

"She is still kind of raw, so to speak," Nolan said. "But she is very gifted and will be a very good player."

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