Faith Ohanta's transformation into one of the most complete players on the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's women's basketball team began with a lack of faith.
The 5-10 junior forward said she once constrained herself to use her abilities near the rim.
UAPB women’s schedule
Nov. 10;Tougaloo College;6 p.m.
Nov. 16;Philander Smith College;6 p.m.
Nov. 19;at Texas Tech;2 p.m.
Nov. 25;at Dayton;2 p.m.
Nov. 29;at Austin Peay;7 p.m.
Dec. 2;at Nebraska;TBA
Dec. 5;at Tulsa;7 p.m.
Dec. 9;at Iowa;2 p.m.
Dec. 21-22;Las Vegas Tournament;TBA
Jan. 1;at Mississippi Valley State*;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 6;at Alabama A&M*;4 p.m.
Jan. 8;at Alabama State*;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 13;Southern*;5 p.m.
Jan. 15;Alcorn State*;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 20;at Prairie View A&M*;3 p.m.
Jan. 22;at Texas Southern*;5:30 p.m.
Jan. 27;Grambling State*;5 p.m.
Jan. 29;Jackson State*;5:30 p.m.
Feb. 3;Alabama A&M*;5 p.m.
Feb. 5;Alabama State*;5:30 p.m.
Feb. 10;at Southern*;5 p.m.
Feb 12;at Alcorn State*;5:30 p.m.
Feb. 17;Prairie View A&M*;5 p.m.
Feb. 19;Texas Southern*;5:30 p.m.
Feb. 24;at Grambling State*;3 p.m.
Feb. 26;at Jackson State*;5:30 p.m.
March 3;Mississippi Valley State*;5 p.m.
*Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent
UAPB 2017-18 women’s basketball roster
21;Aiya El Hassan;F;Fr.;5-11
Ohanta was a post player at Fort Bend Bush (Texas) in 2014, when she had a knack for leaping for rebounds and tapping them back in for easy points -- something she calls "trash buckets" today.
UAPB Coach Nate Kilbert said Ohanta's abilities have expanded enough to make him feel the Golden Lions have a "chance to really do something this year."
"Faith is a small forward who can shoot the three, rebound like a center and run the floor like a deer," Kilbert said. "She's really worked on that. We had a really good meeting about it. In the past, she'd let stuff get to her, a missed shot, and it would get to her. Turn the ball over one time, and it would take over her game. You don't see that anymore from her."
In high school, Ohanta would never think of ever shooting from three-point distance.
"I'd attempt one every two or three games," she said. "I'd be like, 'I hope it goes in,' and I'd end up following the shot. It'd go in, and I'd be like, 'Hey, you might be able to shoot. You might be able to get it to go in.'"
It wasn't until she began playing at Southwestern Christian College (Texas) that she would adhere to her coaches' encouragement to expand her game.
"After practice, they'd all be practicing shooting threes, and I'd say, 'You know I don't shoot no threes,'" she said. "My assistant coach told me, 'You'd be even more of a threat if you can hit the three more consistently.'
Ohanta said Southwestern's head coach, Stan Giddings, required every player to excel and handling the basketball.
Just as Ohanta had relied on "trash buckets" in high school, she had also relied on passing the ball to her point guard after grabbing a defensive rebound.
She watched her junior college teammates intently during practice drills.
"Everyone else could dribble," Ohanta said. "I asked myself, 'Why can't I do it? What makes me different?' I was the same height, same size. So I figured I'd go ahead and work at it. Now, I can get the rebound and push the ball up the floor, and I don't have to wait on my point guard."
She finished her sophomore year averaging 8.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, playing through a rotator cuff tear that forced her to finish the season playing with a brace on her right shoulder.
Kilbert expects Ohanta's .433 field goal percentage last season will improve a UAPB .357 percentage that ranked seventh out of 10 Southwestern Athletic Conference teams last year.
"If she does [what we've talked about], she's a first-, second-team all-conference player," Kilbert said. "No question."
The Golden Lions were picked to finish seventh in the SWAC preseason poll, and 6-0 sophomore center Shawntayla Harris was named to the second team.
With 10 returning players from UAPB's 12-18, 9-9 SWAC season last year that finished fifth in the conference, Kilbert said the team is "going to be way better than our prediction."
"I feel like we're totally ready," he said.
Sports on 11/04/2017
Print Headline: UAPB's Ohanta finding outside shot, confidence