Cavalier Corner

December 2012

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pus of St. Anne's-Belfield (STAB) to The Grounds at UVa. It's a move other former Saints, such as former Cavalier and current NFL star Chris Long, have made with tremendous success. But in reality, Imovbioh's journey to Division I T athletics was a long, tumultuous one. After mak- ing the trek from her native Nigeria to the United States, Imovbioh quickly became one of the top high school girls' basketball play- ers in the country, dominating over- matched opponents. As a junior, she averaged 32.2 points, 20.0 rebounds, 4.9 blocked shots and 4.3 steals per game, and capped the season with a 53-point performance in the state semifinals. During her senior campaign, Imovbioh averaged 29.0 points and 22.6 rebounds per game while leading STAB to the VIS Division II state cham- pionship game — where she scored 31 points and grabbed 25 rebounds — on her the way to becom- ing a Parade All-American and signing with UVa. "The transition from Nigeria was pretty hard on me," said Imovbioh, who was ranked No. 15 at her position by "That was one of the reasons why I wanted to stay close and stay close to my guardian and high school coach who helped me out. That made the transition to UVa really nice." It seemed like a perfect fit, the local star join- ing the hometown team, which could have cer- tainly used a player such as Imovbioh to boost its post presence. But despite being a solid student at STAB, Imovbioh was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for her first year at UVa. The 6-2 forward had a gap in her transcript — she had begun taking high school classes in Ni- BY SHANE METTLEN O MAKE THE TRANSITION from high school to college basketball, Sarah Imovbioh literally had to go just down the street, moving a few blocks down Ivy Road from the cam- geria more than four years before she graduated from STAB — and the NCAA requires athletes to complete core curriculum in four years, even for a student such as Imovbioh, who braved hardships to seek education in America. "Sometimes I felt miserable out there," Imovbioh said of sitting out in 2011-12. After expecting to make an instant impact on the Cavalier program, she wound up on the sidelines for her first year at UVa, not even able to practice with the team. "I really felt like I could help my team, but I just had to be patient," she said. "I was working hard on my game and getting stronger and getting prepared "She's raw, but she's just an unbelievable athlete. … One thing Sarah is going to add is that she runs the floor like a deer and she can improve our rebounding." HEAD COACH JOANNE BOYLE ON IMOVBIOH for this year. Last year, all I could do was talk to my coaches and teammates. "They were really supportive and helped me out with the plays." After the initial heartbreak of the situation wore off, Imovbioh began to see she had opportunities to get used to college life and learn more about basketball by observing. Of course, one year off was more than enough, and she was plenty ready to finally put on the Virginia uniform. "It's so exciting," she said. "I can't wait to get out there and help my teammates. Just practicing with them has been a blessing for me. It wound up being a good year. "It was a blessing because it kind of prepared me for the way this year has been." Now, Imovbioh is a member of the Virginia pro- gram and ready to step in to help replace Chelsea Shine, who was the Cavaliers' leading post player a year ago, but was lost to graduation. Second-

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