Women's Basketball Adds Ajemba and Holopainen

May 09, 2013
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

May 9, 2013

NORFOLK, Va. – The Old Dominion University women’s basketball team and head coach Karen Barefoot announced the addition of Ije Ajemba and Annika Holopainen to the program on Thursday.

“I am excited about the additions of Ije and Annika to the Old Dominion program,” said Barefoot. “Both players have worked hard on and off the court and come in strong academically. On their visits, I was very impressed with both of their outgoing personalities, their leadership skills and their strong desire to work at the game. These are the qualities we embody most in a Lady Monarch.”

Ajemba, a 6-foot-2 center from Parkdale High School in Riverdale Park, Md., becomes the third high school commitment for the Lady Monarchs for the 2013-14 season, joining Odegua Oigbokie and Destinee Young. George Washington junior forward transfer Chelisa Painter will join the squad this season as well after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

“Ajemba is a superior athlete with great size, tremendous strength, impressive wing span and unlimited ability,” Barefoot remarked. “Her football mentality allows her to be an aggressive rebounder, shot blocker and tenacious defender. Given the tremendous talent in the state of Maryland, she has set numerous school and state records. We are incredibly excited to welcome her into our Lady Monarch family.”

Averaging 19.0 rebounds per contest in her senior season, Ajemba averaged 9.0 points along with 5.6 blocks and 30 minutes per game and is a three-sport athlete at Parkdale as she also plays defensive end on the football team and is on the softball team. The highlights of her basketball career came in a triple-double performance of 33 rebounds, 23 points and 10 blocks against High Point High School on Feb. 5.

“Ije is an extremely physical athlete and was able to hold her own on the football field,” said Parkdale High School Head Football Coach Lorenzo Fludd. “In the five games she played, she had 15 tackles and a sack. She is a very gifted and talented athlete.”

Named to Riverdale Baptist’s All-Tournament team, Ajemba was selected to the Prince George’s County All-Star Game and broke the school record in 2012-13 for the most rebounds and most blocks in a single season. Leading all players in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area in rebounds and blocks, she is also an honor roll student and received the Outstanding Cadet Award in Army ROTC program at Parkdale.

“With only two years of organized basketball, Ije really blossomed as a multi-sport athlete here,” said Parkdale High School Women’s Basketball Coach Lawrence Watson. “She worked incredibly hard with a serious drive to earn a Division I scholarship and I think she will take her game to another level with the Lady Monarchs.”

Holopainen, a 6-foot-2 forward from Helsinki, Finland, spent her freshman season at the University of Portland where she was named to the 2012-13 West Coast Conference (WCC) All-Freshman Team. She will sit out the 2013-14 season due to NCAA transfer rules.

The second leading scorer for the Pilots this season, Holopainen averaged 9.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. She shot 41.5 percent from the field (115-for-277) and was 36.1 percent from three-point range (35-for-97). While earning WCC All-Rookie Team honors, she also earned honorable mention for the All-WCC Team as she improved her numbers in league with 10.9 points per contest and shot 38.3 percent from three-point range and 44.7 percent overall from the field.

“Annika comes to Old Dominion with an impressive resume,” commented Barefoot. “She excelled at a high level as a freshman against a very competitive schedule and has also played and had great success internationally. She brings the ability to score on the block and on the perimeter, as she is a threat from three-point line and in.”

Playing internationally, Holopainen played with Finland’s U-16 and U-18 national teams. She averaged 17.8 points and 7.0 rebounds at the 2011 European Championships as the U-18’s finished in fourth place. She helped lead her team to the Nordic Team Title in both 2009 and 2010, while registering 30 points and eight boards during the Nordic Title game as she was named to the tournament all-star team in both 2010 and 2011.