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High School Sports

City basketball player Nkeiruka Okororie on switching schools, expanding her game, cooking African cuisine

City senior Nkeiruka Okororie is averaging 16.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, and carries a 4.7 GPA.

City senior Nkeiruka Okororie has been one of Baltimore City's top post players most of her career, but she's working this season to expand her game in preparation for college. The 5-foot-11 power forward can mix it up inside with the best of her opponents, averaging 16.1 points and 10.4 rebounds for the Knights (11-5). In college, however, she figures she might be moved outside.

A veteran of the Baltimore Lady Panthers Amateur Athletic Union program, she's hoping to play at Morgan State. She has a 4.7 weighted GPA and plans to major in finance.

How did you get started playing basketball?

I started playing basketball in the 7th grade. I was playing for Baltimore's Charm with coach Gregory Hinton and from there, I just really fell in love with the game.

What did you like so much about it?

First off, I really liked just the sport itself, having that feeling of scoring a bucket, but I also started to love the physical side of it. Just having that physicality, just be able to claim your spot on the court is what I find interesting.

What's an early basketball memory that stands out?

One of my first actual games, I traveled with the ball, like I just got the ball and I just ran with it. I think I was really so nervous that I forgot all the fundamentals like dribbling the ball. Basketball was really new to me. I didn't do that again (laughs).

How has your game improved this year? Have you worked on anything in particular?

I was always a good post player, but this year I've really improved on expanding my range in terms of shooting. It makes me more effective having that 3-point shot or having that mid-range shot, makes me a new threat in the Baltimore City league.

How is your team doing as we get close to the playoffs?

My team, in the beginning, was having a rough time. It was a new group, especially because we had transfers and we had freshmen and we had a few returning players and we had a whole bunch of seniors. Everything was jumbled up. We didn't have much chemistry. We didn't vibe really well together quickly. But now, we're really finding our chemistry, so I think we can be really successful if we keep working hard and having that bond and that relationship as teammates.

You played for two years at Poly, so what brought you to City?

The rival school move. It was an interesting experience for me for my high school career, but the move was just that I thought City was the place where I could really shine. I felt I could really have my place here. It was the best fit academically as well as on the basketball court. It was a wild experience, just the tension of moving and then playing Poly and seeing them everywhere. It was just really awkward. It's somewhat better now.

What's happening with your college recruiting process?

I had a lot of offers outside of Maryland, but I was really looking for the best fit for me and being far away wasn't really what I wanted. I started to realize that when I was on my visits. I really do want to stay in Maryland and I want to pursue my degree and my major in Maryland and I figured Morgan would be the place to go academically and athletically.

What's something that most people don't know about you?

Some people don't know that I really like to cook. I love baking. It's my thing. In the summertime, I love to bake, and on the weekends, I cook with my sisters.

What do you cook?

I cook a lot of African foods like rice, fufu and yams. Fufu is a dough — I use wheat flour — and you put it in the microwave, warm it up and it becomes this solid ball and you dip it in soup and eat it. There's a whole bunch of different soups that you wouldn't even be able to spell (laughs).

Both of your parents are from Nigeria. Is there a family tradition you enjoy most?

We usually go to this huge — like really, really huge — family reunion and every year it's in a different state because we all live in different states, so this year it will be in Atlanta. Last year, it was in D.C. We usually just have this three-day party and it's just meet your cousins, meet everyone in that state and it gets really exciting. It's a lot of people. I wouldn't even know how many until I get there. It's like, "Oh, you're my uncle. Okay." (Laughs) It's really fun. My grandfather usually comes (from Nigeria).

What do you like to do on snow days?

Snow days, I usually catch up on work. I'm a little nerd, but I do all homework and if I've done all my homework, I'll probably study a little bit. Then, if there's any games on, I'll watch them. If not, I'll just watch movies all day.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kdunnsun

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