The Mansfield girls basketball team returns a tall post player to the court for her senior season, but there’s more than just her nearly 6-foot height that will benefit her team.
Although Maryam Adeniyi had already posted a double-double (12 points, 12 rebounds) in the season opener for Mansfield, the hard-working student-athlete is looking to improve the placement in the district standings and in the footprint she leaves on the community.
On the court, Adeniyi is a powerful post who is always moving toward the basket and any loose ball.
“When I miss, it makes me more motivated to get the ball and go back up,” Adeniyi said. “I’ll get my own rebound on the other side of the basket and go back up.”
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Her ability to jump and pull down rebounds goes back to her dedication and time at the gym.
Much of the motivation to push herself comes in part from the fact that Adeniyi has three older brothers who have always encouraged her competitive spirit.
All three brothers were former football players at Mansfield.
But her experience in basketball isn’t a long history or filled with offseason club play.
Adeniyi said she started playing basketball at Worley Middle School in seventh grade after not making the volleyball team.
Being one of the tallest girls in her class, friends and family encouraged Adeniyi to try basketball.
“But I didn’t know the difference between offense and defense or what a layup was,” she said.
She picked up the game naturally and each year was able to see her improvement. As a freshman, Adeniyi began on the B team and then to the A team. By her sophomore year, Adeniyi had played her way onto the varsity squad.
She gives credit to her three brothers and to Mansfield head coach Kate Goldberg and assistant coach Jenna Goolsby.
“They’re always motivating me and they’re great supporters. They’ve taught me a lot about basketball,” she said of the coaching staff.
Now, she feels her defensive game is strongest, but her quickness and strength is providing more ‘and-1’ opportunities on the offensive end.
“I have to make sure my girl doesn’t get posted up on me,” she said of her defensive focus. “I don’t want her to go up, but I need to box out and get the rebound.”
Adeniyi said the reality of her senior season is beginning to sink in.
“I always want to play hard and set an example,” she said. “I want the team to succeed this year and the years after.”
It’s obvious, though, Adeniyi is more than a basketball player.
She is also a 4.0 student and an active volunteer through Key Club and the honor society.
Clearly, what drives Adeniyi on the court is the same strong motivation off the court.
“I use the same work ethic and determination from basketball in all aspects of life,” Adeniyi said.
Her parents are both Nigerian, and that heritage is a large part of Adeniyi’s identity, too. She serves as vice president of Mansfield’s first African Students Association.
Even Adeniyi’s hobbies are unique.
Almost a lost art among Millennials, Adeniyi loves to sew, especially with African fabric to help her embrace her culture.
Next year, rather than seeing herself on a court, Adeniyi is driven to find a home at a prestigious business school where she can focus on academics.
Among some of the schools she’s considering are Cornell, UNC Chapel Hill, Texas, Indiana, Texas A&M and Houston.
No doubt, the intramural season will tug at Adeniyi’s consideration.
Until then, Adeniyi said she and the other three seniors and the returning players will hope to stitch together a successful season worthy of appearing on her resume.