By Joseph Staszewski
Jasmine Nwajei is in a holding pattern in her college search as her senior year is weeks from getting started.
“I’m looking for better looks later on in the season,” she said.
The incoming Murry Bergtraum guard, who transferred from Mary Louis last February, has offers from Stony Brook, Wagner and FDU. She visited the Erie, Pa. Seawolves in late June and also has heavy interest from Boston University and UMass. She spent the summer traveling the AAU circuit with Positive Direction and doesn’t have any other visits planned at this point.
“It just motivates me to go harder,” the 5-foot-8 combo guard said.
Positive Direction Coach JoAnn Arbitello said Nwajei played well at Basketball on the Bayou in New Orleans in mid-July. Positive Direction will travel to the Blue Chip Fall Ball Classic Sept. 28-30 and Arbitello believes coaches might come back for another look at her after following her all summer.
In Arbitello’s mind, it’s been a summer of maturing for Nwajei, who scored 18 points in Positive Directions’ 64-56 loss to the Lady Falcons at West 4th Street Aug. 7. She is at St. Claire’s gym in Rosedale every morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. working out, something she hasn’t done in the past. Improving her jump shot has been her main focus.
“She is shooting with more confidence,” Arbitello said. “She just has to work on her defense. When she does that, she will be a complete player.”
One of the city’s top rising seniors, Nwajei left Mary Louis for financial reasons. She is excited to finally be stepping on the court next season for the defending champion Lady Blazers. Last year she scored 25 points to help TMLA beat New Jersey power Teaneck at the Kennedy Challenge and had 21 points against Bergtraum at the Francis Lewis Winter Ball. Nwajei got to sit on the bench as the Lady Blazers won its 14th straight PSAL Class AA title.
“It was kind of like, ‘I can’t wait for that to be me,’” she said.
There was an adjustment period to the Lower Manhattan school last year from Mary Louis, a small all-girls Catholic school. This coming season she will be looked at to be more than just an addition to the returning core, but a leader. Nwajei has already been named a captain and will be part of a star-studded backcourt featuring sophomore Ashanae McLaughlin and Truman transfer Joella Gibson, who was her opponent last week.
“Her role is going to be different at Bergtraum,” Arbitello said. “I think she is ready to take on that leadership role.”