After signing her National Letter of Intent, Seton Hall women’s basketball head coach Anthony Bozzella called Femi Funeus “one of the most polished players I have ever seen at the high school level, regardless of position.”
Bozzella doubled down on his praise for his freshman forward at Big East Media Day, saying she is in the conversation for Big East Freshman of the Year.
Funeus, who has a mentality of excellence generated from commitment, also possesses the confidence to make her a presence on a program looking to get back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.
“As long as I work hard, I agree (that I can be Big East Freshman of the Year),” Funeus said. “If you work hard, you can achieve anything on your mind. As long as I keep putting forward the work I have had with my team, show what I have learned from other players and as I keep learning and keep improving every day, then I could see that vision, too.”
Winning the Big East Freshman of the Year would just be another on a long list of accolades for the Plantation, Fla. native. As a junior in high school, Funeus established herself on the national scale, putting her team on her back by averaging 21 points and 12 rebounds and leading them to a 27-3 record along with district and regional titles. Funeus would go on to win County Player of the Year, also.
Funeus gave her team a phenomenal encore for her senior farewell tour, averaging another double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds, helping her team capture its first state championship in history. She would also be named County Player of the Year for a second straight season.
“Polished,” as Bozzella said, seems to suit Funeus pretty well.
Yet, to stay on top of her game, Funeus knows that at a new level of basketball, she must demonstrate to an unfamiliar audience that she has the arsenal of skills it takes to be on the hardwood.
“As a freshman the first thing I have to do is prove myself and show I should play and deserve to get minutes on the board,” Funeus said. “I have to push myself and prove to my teammates and coaches that I should get some time on the board and play.”
Off the court, Funeus is a physics major. She has to understand a complexity of scientific topics in the classroom, something much harder than determining when it is the right time to take her favorite shot on the floor – a 15-foot jump shot from the basket. However, it does not take a science textbook to understand another aspect of the subject, chemistry, is an internal part of life, especially to the life of a basketball team inside the locker room.
“As long as we stay as a team together, stay as one, let nothing tear us apart, that is the biggest part of a team,” Funeus said. “Especially with girls, once you are together, and you want to play to win, and everyone has the same mindset, you cannot tell them otherwise. I feel we all have that mindset. I know we can do it this year, I know we can go pretty far.”
Funeus mentioned that the leadership on the team is “very good,” and in addition to learning about spin moves in the post and going up strong to the basket from the upperclassmen, they keep her “engaged” and are always looking to help a teammate.
This year’s team is one that carries five seniors on its roster, along with two graduate players, but it will not stop Funeus from trying to outwork them all to take herself, and the program, to an elite tier of college basketball.
Robert Fallo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @robert_fallo.