It hasn’t taken long for legendary head coach Tara VanDerveer and Stanford to find another Aussie following the success of Alanna Smith, with Class of 2020 prospect Agnes Emma-Nnopu announcing her verbal commitment to the Cardinal.
Emma-Nnopu becomes the third Australian in the 2020 class to commit to a Pac-12 school, following UCLA pair Isobel Anstey and Gemma Potter’s announcements over the last couple of weeks.
Emma-Nnopu, a member of two medal-winning World Cup sides at youth level, has emerged as one of Australia’s top prospects after exhibiting an outstanding all-round game on the world stage. It is therefore little wonder that programs of the calibre of Duke, Texas, Boston College, and perennial contenders Stanford were all after her signature. However, in the end it was the team from the Bay Area that won the race for one of the most prized recruits in Australia ahead of three teams that currently feature Aussies on their rosters.
Listed at 6’0, Emma-Nnopu has put up solid numbers at World Cup level in each of the last two years, but the box score paints barely half of the picture when it comes to analysing her game. While the Victorian star may have averaged in excess of 6 points and 7 rebounds per contest at both the 2018 Under 17 World Cup and 2019 Under 19 World Cup, it is arguably the work that doesn’t show up on the stat line that is most impressive.
An exceptional presence at the defensive end, Emma-Nnopu has regularly exhibited the kind of tenacity that gives opponents nightmares, making herself a crucial part of two medal-winning sides on the world stage in the process. That energy also manifests itself on the offensive end, and combined with her ever-evolving skillset, culminates in an all-round game that enables Emma-Nnopu to impact the game in any situation. That offensive prowess was on full display at February’s Under 20 Australian Junior Championships, in which Emma-Nnopu shot an astounding 63% from two-point range, at times finishing from mid-range and close to the basket with consummate ease.
Despite the obvious comparisons given their pathways through the national program and choice of college, it would be unfair to place Alanna Smith-level expectations on Emma-Nnopu. However, the newest member of the Cardinal family has laid the foundation throughout her junior career to give herself the best opportunity to succeed at Stanford.
At a program where standards are incredibly high, a player with Emma-Nnopu’s intensity on-court looks made for this kind of situation, particularly coming in as the third member of a highly rated recruiting class that may yet gain additional members. The Cardinal have already secured a verbal commitment from ESPN’s #3 overall recruit, 6’4 forward Cameron Brink, as well as five-star point guard Jana Van Gytenbeek.