Oladipo finds home at Waterloo
The Waterloo Warriors were a slam dunk choice for Yemi Oladipo to pursue her post secondary basketball aspirations.
“There were many, many reasons why I chose Waterloo,” the Grade 12 student at Sir Winston Churchill said. “It was a pretty tough decision because I did have a lot of options but it was mainly because of the coaching environment. Jess (head coach Jessica Roque) is amazing and she made it so easy and seamless and she was so persistent and very welcoming when I went for my visit.”
The classroom component was also a big part of the decision for the 17-year-old.
“I am very academically focused and they had the program I was looking for there.”
But that wasn’t all for the future health sciences major, who is hoping to pursue a career as a doctor or dentist.
“There are lots of opportunities to advance my game next year and it’s also not too far from home. I love that.”
The Niagara Juel player also received an offer from 2023 national champion Carleton but Waterloo was an offer she couldn’t refuse.
“It was really tough swallowing that pill but I am still very confident in my decision.”
Roque is happy to have her at Waterloo.
“Yemi embodies the spirit of a Warrior. She’s a hard worker, humble, and above all, a great teammate. It would be obvious to say her strength and athleticism make her a threat on both ends of the court. But it is the combination of her abilities and who she is that makes me excited to introduce her as part of our team for next season. I know she will add value to our defensive prowess and fit well with our style of play and team culture.”
Oladipo is ready to take on the challenge of playing at the next level.
“My goal is to keep developing in each area and I want to take as much of a leadership role as I can. Although I am a rookie, I still want to be a leader on the court in every way I can be. I want to stand out next year.”
She can’t wait to get started.
“I am very excited that I get to do what I love and study what I love at the same time while having a good support system around me. I’ve met all the girls and they are very nice. I am excited to form those bonds on and off the court.”
She feels her game had changed in last year:
“I am a lot more confident in every area on the floor. I used to rely a lot on my physical abilities on defence but now I have been more confident in my offensive abilities, my shooting and handling the ball more. I think that just comes from repetition, practising more and trying new things.”
She knows there is still lots of work to do.
“I really want to work on my athleticism and endurance and just building my body so I will be able to play at the collegiate level,” she said. “I want to work at the areas I am good at and make them perfect.”
Frank Keltos, Oladipo’s coach at Churchill and Juel, has coached her forever and loves what she brings to the court.
“She is a tenacious defender and she has learned the game for a long time watching her sister, Jummy, play,” he said. “She is a person who wants to be a perfectionist at the game and she is 100 per cent coachable. I think she will be amazingly successful at the USPORTS level because she is coachable. She is going to go in and make an impact right away because she is such a good defender and she is physically ready to play. There will be the learning curve of an 18-year-old playing against 22- and 23-year-olds but I think she will have a great USPORTS career.”
Oladipo’s physicality will certainly help.
“The one thing that will change that instead of her getting calls because she is the strongest kid on the floor, she is going to be ‘I normally got called for that in high school and in club ball and now it is a no call.’ There will be that adjustment where she will be able to use her physicality,” Keltos said. “It will be a great tool for Waterloo and that is why she had a bunch of schools asking me about her and where she is going. The fit of the coaches, the players and being able to play right away is why Waterloo is the perfect fit for her.”
Her play this year has made Keltos confident she is ready for the next step.
“She has cleaned up everything. You can see when she signed how her focus in practice improved. We talk about running hard when doing layups and she is doing everything full speed. She sees that she needs to start doing that all the time.”