Former Alief ISD Graduate Fulfills Her Dream of Playing Basketball Professionally in the WNBA
Elsik graduate Adaora Elonu is a great example of never giving up on your dream. Elonu, who played basketball for the Lady Rams, graduated from Elsik in 2008 and then attended the state’s Flagship University – Texas A&M University in College Station.
Adaora, who was named district MVP and first team All-Region and All-State at Elsik, made an immediate impact on the Lady Aggies. She started 14 games her freshman year and was selected as Big 12 freshman of the week three times. She was a team captain during her sophomore and junior years and, as a senior, was named honorable mention to the All-Big 12 team and made the 2012 Academic All-Big 12 first team.
Elonu was an integral part of the Lady Aggies team during her junior season that went 33-5 and captured the 2010-11 National Championship with a 76-70 win over heavily favored Notre Dame on April 5, 2011. Elonu scored 9 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the title game.
“That season was incredible. We were really close and Coach Blair did a great job of always keeping things in perspective, even when we would go through a bad stretch. It was an honor to reach the Final Four but we had to beat a very tough Stanford team to even get to national title game. That was a hard-fought game that we won by 1 point.”
The Lady Aggies trailed Stanford by 10 points with just 6 minutes left to play but rallied and scored with 3.3 seconds left to win 63-62.
Adaora left Texas A&M in 2012 with both her bachelor’s degree in allied health and master’s degree in health education and then went overseas to play professional basketball. Her career began in Israel with Hapoel Galil Elyon and then she signed with Beroil-Ciudad de Burgos in Spain. She then signed with CB Conquero in Spain and that team captured the Queen’s Cup of Basketball title in 2016. She was named MVP of that tournament. She then signed to play with CB Avenida who captured the championship in Spain.
When asked about how difficult it was to adjust to living in a different country and culture she replied “Growing up in Alief exposed me to many different cultures. There is so much diversity there so it wasn’t much of an adjustment for me to live in Spain. The people are extremely nice and helpful and I have really enjoyed my time here.”
Adaora also finds time to play for the Nigerian national team and won a bronze medal with that team in the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship for Women. She was named to the All-Tournament Team and is looking forward to again playing for the Nigerian national team.
“There is such a sense of pride playing for your national team. I really can’t describe it,” she said.
After playing overseas for so long, Elonu returned to the United States to play with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream as the Dream competed in the playoffs.
“I always wanted to play in the WNBA so I jumped at the chance when that opportunity became available,” she said. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to play in the WNBA and especially for a team that is competing for the championship.”
After the Dream’s WNBA season ends (they were still competing in the playoffs at the time this article was written) Adaora is looking forward to once again playing for the Nigerian National team in the 2018 World Cup.
“I return to Nigeria just as soon as the Dream’s season ends, and I hope it doesn’t end soon. I am again looking forward to competing for the national team and winning the gold medal this time.”
Adaora’s brother – Chinemelu – also played at Elsik High School and Texas A&M University. He also played professionally in Spain and currently plays for AEK Athens in Greece. Her brother – Chibuzo, another Elsik graduate – teaches at Chambers Elementary School in Alief ISD.
Adaora says her parents instilled the value of hard work at a young age.
“We were taught to go out and work hard for what we wanted. Nothing was given to us, we had to earn it. We also developed a strong sense of pride for where my family came from and I feel that sense of pride every time I return to Nigeria and play for the national team.”
She added that it is that sense of hard work that drove her to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M while playing for a national champion basketball team.
“I began making plans while at Texas A&M for my life after basketball. I knew then that even though I love the game, that I won’t be able to play forever so I began making plans for a career after basketball.”
She did have some advice for today’s student-athletes who have plans to play professional sports. “Listen to your coaches, they not only provide advice on how to improve as a player, but also as a person. Stay positive, we all go through ups and downs in sports, and in life. Follow good people. Don’t get caught up in things you shouldn’t be doing by following people who aren’t good. And, last but probably the most important – ask questions. We learn through asking questions so don’t be afraid to ask. I have always asked a lot of questions because I want to be the best academically and athletically.”
Photo Credit: Anadolu Agency
Elsik High School graduate Adaora Elonu recently signed with the WNBA Atlanta Dream. While playing for the Lady Rams, she was named district MVP, first team All-Region and All-State. She also played on the National Champion Texas A&M University Lady Aggies basketball team.
Photo Credit: Kevin Liles
Adaora left Texas A&M in 2012 with both her bachelor’s degree in allied health and master’s degree in health education and then went overseas to play professional basketball in Israel, Spain and Nigeria. She recently fulfilled her goal of playing in the WNBA by signing with the Atlanta Dream.