Jana Abdullah from Egypt, who participated in the NBA Academies Women’s Program camps in May and October atThe NBA Academy Africa in Senegal, has committed to attend the University of Cincinnati, becoming the third participant from The NBA Academies Women’s Program to sign a National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division 1 School. Jana is the first female player coming out of The NBA Academy Africa camp to sign with a Division 1 School in the United States.
The Cincinnati Bearcats women’s basketball team represents the University of Cincinnati (UC) in women’s basketball. The school competes in the American Athletic Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Bearcats will return to their permanent home of Fifth Third Arena on the UC campus in Cincinnati, Ohio for the 2018–19 seasons after a year-long renovation project. Below is an interview with Jana.
What does it mean to you to receive a Division 1 scholarship to the University of Cincinnati?
I am speechless when I think that in less than 1 year I will be a Cincinnati Bearcat. It means so much to me and it has always been one of my bucket list dreams to play D1 basketball. It is surreal and an honour to be a part of the historic Cincinnati basketball program (likes of Oscar Robertson having attended Cincinnati) and under the direction of their amazing coaching staff and wonderful new Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard. I feel like I have a big responsibility & a commitment not only represent Egypt well, but also all of Africa as a part of the University of Cincinnati family.
What is your favourite aspect of the game?
My favourite aspect of the game is the opportunity to unite with people of different backgrounds and cultures and get to learn & share our love for the game.
What are your favourite quotes?
My favourite quotes are: “All progresses takes place outside the comfort zone.” and “Do the right thing even when no one is looking.”
How did the NBA Academy Camp in Senegal help you improve?
The NBA Academy Camp in Senegal improved my basketball skillset tremendously by working with the coaches. It motivated me to compete my hardest in every possession and elevated my overall game so I can compete at the highest level possible.
How did the NBA Academy Camp in Senegal motivate you on and off the court?
The NBA Academy helped me improve my game and gain confidence that I can play at the highest level possible. The coaches and supporting staff have provided tremendous support on and off the court since I first met them. They are in constant contact with me from across the world and help me achieve my goals. They genuinely care about my improvement on the court and my overall well-being as a person. It truly feels like I am a part of the NBA family.
What drew you to the University of Cincinnati?
From the minute I connected with Coach Michelle Clark-Heard and her staff I felt so welcomed and loved. I knew that Cincinnati was the perfect choice especially being so far away from home. Not to mention they play a top notch schedule against teams like UCONN and compete in one of the best conferences.
What impressed you with the basketball program and coaches?
Hard work and integrity are two of my core values and they align with the program in general. They’re willing to help me become better and they work really hard. This is the most important thing to me. The coaching staff already makes me feel like it’s home. I love hard work and dedication, so we’re most definitely on the same page there.
How will you help other players form Egypt explore the option of playing in the United States?
The idea of Egyptian and Arabic women headed to the U.S. to play ball is becoming more popular. A few years back, there were no girls traveling to the U.S. for D1 full scholarships. With the rise of Egyptian junior girls basketball, I want to encourage other girls to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and dream big when it comes to their basketball goals. With hard work, persistence and dedication, everything is possible. I want to be a good example for young African players to encourage, guide and mentor them because even if you fall short the reward is in the learning’s along the journey, not just in the achievement of your dream.
What does a full scholarship mean for your family?
It makes my family so proud that their sacrifices, hard work and dedication have helped me get to my dream. Without my family’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goals.
What are you interested in studying?
I am interested in studying Nutrition and Health Science because as a young girl growing up I struggled with obesity & image issues where I was constantly bullied by my classmates and others. Basketball helped me find my balance in life and nutrition helped me become a better basketball player. Without proper nutritional discipline for any high level athlete it becomes extremely challenging to achieve consistent & sustainable results in a very demanding sport. More importantly, it helps ensure that I feel good about myself and live a healthy life.
Who are your role models?
My role models are Serena Williams and Lebron James.
How long have you played basketball?
I have been playing the game for 8 years.
How would your teammates describe you?
My teammates would describe me as passionate, encouraging and focused.
Congrats to Jana. We are all very proud.