Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Cal’s star freshman forward Kristine Anigwe on a quest for self-improvement

Published on January 15, 2016

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Cal freshman center Kristine Anigwe (Phoenix, AZ) wasted no time in proving her immense talents on the court at the beginning of this season. In her first outing back in November, a road contest at Austin Peay in Tennessee, she scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Two days later, at then-No. 8 Louisville, she put up 19 points along with another eight rebounds.

Fifteen games into the season, with another fourteen to go in Pac-12 play, the freshman has scored in double digits in every single game and notched a double-double in all Pac-12 contests so far. She is averaging 21.9 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per outing. She has started every game this season except one (Nov. 22 vs. Cal Poly). She had a career-high in points, 43, on Dec. 6 in a win against Sacramento State.

Dec. 6, 2015: Kristine Anigwe after scoring 43 points vs. Sacramento State.

Dec. 6, 2015: Kristine Anigwe after scoring 43 points vs. Sacramento State.

While she has a dominant on-court presence, off the hardwood, she has a soft-spoken, intellectual air and is not afraid to honestly critique her performances, even after wins, in her quest for self-improvement.

“I think with each game I’ve become more confident with my own game,” she said after Cal defeated Colorado on Jan. 8. “And with each game I think we’ve wanted to win more and that’s helped a lot too. And I think that’s been pushing the team and myself—the desire to keep getting better.”

She came to Cal after a banner summer playing with the USA Basketball Women’s Under 19 team that beat Russia in the FIBA U19 World Championship in Chekhov, Russia. The 2015 McDonald’s All-American says she learned a lot from that experience including lessons from Azurá Stevens (Duke), A’ja Wilson (South Carolina) and Chatrice White (Illinois): “They’re all very strong and lanky, they’ve all made me who I am.”

She also claimed gold with USA Basketball at the 2014 U17 World Championships in the Czech Republic.

This season has not been without difficult challenges on the floor for Anigwe. Cal’s last outing was a home loss to unranked Utah, a team that benefits from the experience of redshirt sophomore post player Emily Potter. Anigwe said the Utah matchup was her toughest test so far.

“She made me pay for every mistake I made,” said Anigwe about Potter, “and I haven’t had someone make me pay for every mistake that I made and that was just a lesson learned. She made me feel like a freshman.”

However, there is no doubt that Anigwe will work hard to figure out her mistakes in that game and learn from the loss. After the defeat she said “now I know what I need to improve on in my game.”

Still, even with a tough road trip on the horizon with games at Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA and USC on tap for Cal, Anigwe has a lot to be proud of already in her freshman year. This past Monday, she was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for the seventh time, tying a record held by Washington’s Kelsey Plum set in 2013-14.

“I’m blessed,” said Anigwe, when asked about tying Plum’s record. “I’m amazed. I think it’s unreal.”

She followed up by mentioning her role models: Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka Ogwumike, Kayla Pedersen, Reshanda Gray, Tina Charles, Candace Parker and Stevens. When she has questions about her game and needs advice, she calls on the Ogwumikes, fellow Nigerian-Americans.

“They’re really very friendly,” said Anigwe. “They answer any questions I ask, they’re just really, really respectful and respected. I can go and ask them any questions. I’ll probably go and ask them questions about this game too.”

With games coming up against some of the best post players in the nation: Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne and Oregon State’s Ruth Hamblin, she’ll need their advice. However, given her track record, Anigwe will be able to hold her own as she continues to build her own legacy and turn heads nationwide.

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