Notre Dame women add 6-2 forward Becky Obinma from transfer portal

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent
TCU forward Becky Obinma (2) during an NCAA women's basketball game against Cornell on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU won 59-49. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame put a potential wrap on its roster additions for the 2023-24 women’s basketball season Thursday afternoon by adding grad student forward Becky Obinma.

The 6-foot-2 Obinma, who effectively moves into the post slot vacated by the departing Lauren Ebo, averaged 6.5 points, a team-leading 6.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 19.7 minutes per game last season for an 11-19 Pepperdine team that finished 5-13 in the West Coast Conference.

Obinma’s numbers wound up somewhat similar to the ones Ebo posted in her grad-student season with the 27-6 Irish (15-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).

A post-season chat with Notre Dame women's basketball coach Niele Ivey

Ebo averaged 9.0 points, 7.0 boards, 21.5 minutes and 1.0 blocks for ND. She shot 50.3% from the field and 73.1% from the line, while Obinma finished at 43.9% from the field and 65.4% from the line for the Wave.

On one hand, Obinma’s slightly lesser figures also came against lesser competition than Ebo faced. On the other, she didn’t have the same quality of players around her as Ebo, allowing for the possibility that her numbers could trend in either direction going forward.

“Becky brings experience, athleticism and depth to the post position,” Irish coach Niele Ivey said in a release announcing Obinma’s signing. “She has a great motor and contagious energy on and off the court that will fit perfectly with our team. I’m looking forward to adding her post presence and speed in the open court to enhance our offensive capabilities.”

The Irish have largely struck transfer gold with each of their last two single-year inside additions in Ebo and a year earlier Maya Dodson, who earned All-ACC honors in 2021-22 after coming over from Stanford.

Obinma was not listed among ESPN’s top 40 players in the transfer portal this offseason, although Dodson typically wasn’t on lists of that nature two years ago.

Most of this year’s leading transfers have now signed, though landing spots for standout forwards Aneesah Morrow from DePaul and Erynn Barnum from Arkansas have not been confirmed.

In terms of scholarship limits, the Irish could still add, but in terms of how many such players they typically carry, they’re already over.

Ebo and guard Dara Mabrey are the only departures from last season’s Sweet 16 club, while Obinma becomes the fourth addition, joining highly rated freshman guards Hannah Hidalgo and Emma Risch, along with transfer guard Anna DeWolfe from Fordham.

With Obinma aboard, ND’s list of forwards moves to four, including returning starters Maddy Westbeld, an All-ACC second-teamer, and Kylee Watson, along with fellow veteran Nat Marshall.

As for the guards, second-team All-American guard Olivia Miles is coming off a knee injury suffered late this past season — with her timeline for return to play still not firmed up — but the backcourt-rich roster also includes All-ACC pick Sonia Citron, KK Bransford, Cass Prosper and Jenna Brown in addition to three of the newcomers.

Obinma’s efforts for Pepperdine this past winter marked her second straight season as primarily a starter. She also averaged 7.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and a team-pacing 1.7 blocks in 2021-22.

Hailing from Menifee, Calif., Obinma played high school ball at Rosary Academy in Fullerton.

She started her college career by redshirting at Texas Christian in 2018-19 and playing a limited role for the Horned Frogs the following year, before transferring to Pepperdine and sitting out the 2020-21 pandemic-shortened season.