What started out as a fun, laid-back activity eventually grew into a dream scenario for Ruthie Udoumoh: playing college basketball.
Udoumoh, an Oklahoma State women’s basketball commit from Victory Christian School in Tulsa, started on the court when she was 9 years old, playing basketball solely based on approval from her peers.
committed 🧡 pic.twitter.com/EzZ34nFxoX— ruthie.u (@ruth_udoumoh) September 9, 2019
Little did she know, Udoumoh would be the only one out of her group of friends to continue pursuing a natural passion for the game.
“It was just a fun thing to do, and then it started becoming something that I just wanted to keep doing, and a lot of them quit,” Udoumoh said.
While she didn’t credit herself as being good enough during her junior high years, she didn’t completely recognize her skill until her sophomore year of high school at Victory Christian.
“I can play basketball and that pretty much motivated me to keep working hard and getting better because I knew I had a talent on the court,” Udoumoh said.
Victory Christian coach Ryan Wakley first noticed Udoumoh before her high school career.
“I saw her in junior high and saw what an athlete she was,” Wakley said. “I always knew she was the type of athlete to play some kind of college sport. I’ve seen her on the volleyball court; she could be a Division I volleyball player, too.”
In her sophomore year, Udoumoh went up against Holland Hall, and star in the making, Gabby Gregory, who’s currently a freshman at the University of Oklahoma.
“Gabby was the talk of the town and the highly recruited player, and the thing I love is Ruthie wanting to go out and compete with her,” Wakley said.
This was a contest where Wakley knew she had a player of star potential.
"(Ruthie) had a very good night, and that moment kind of sticks in your mind when you’re starting to realize what she’s capable of doing.”
As a senior, Udoumoh averaged 14.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and earned the Pinnacle Girls Basketball Conference MVP for the 2019-20 season.
While Wakley credited her defensive abilities, he believes there’s more to come in her game.
“I think what will blossom is her outside shooting,” Wakley said. “She’s a willing worker, and I think she’s stretched the surface on what she’s capable of doing.”
Maybe that’s to be expected considering Udoumoh’s bloodlines. She comes from an athletic background: an older sister played basketball at Oral Roberts University; her mother played volleyball; her father ran track; one older brother plays football at Northeastern State University; and her younger brother is involved in athletics as well.
Since Udoumoh committed to OSU during her sophomore year, she’s maintained a strong connection with OSU coach Jim Littell.
“Ever since then, he’s been staying in touch,” Udoumoh said. “He’s the first coach that saw potential in me when I started to truly show what I could do.”
Udoumoh is also comfortable knowing that she’ll still be close to home and her family and friends.
“It was not a plan of mine to move thousands of miles away,” she said. “I’ve never moved anywhere, like I’ve been here since I was born, so this is all I’m used to.”