By Alexa Ard
Mimi Mungedi can be hard to miss as she stands at six-foot-eight, but her height has finally started to make a strong impact in her third season on the Nevada women’s basketball team.
I can’t quite remember when I first saw Mungedi, but I’ll never forget that she was the first profile on someone I ever wrote. My editor at The Nevada Sagebrush told me to pick a player from the team. As I scrolled down the Pack’s roster, her height and her hometown, Libreville, Gabon, immediately caught my attention.
I was in awe of how tall she was. I couldn’t help but think how she could dominate in women’s basketball with those long legs and arms.
It seemed like Nevada head coach Jane Albright wanted her to be in the starting lineup last year as she also recognized what a force Mungedi could be. Her height would be an asset against the bigger competition in the Mountain West Conference. She kept starting her, but it was obvious that Mungedi wasn’t ready. The center still had more fine-tuning to make to her game. Mungedi’s biggest mistake was constantly bringing the ball down to her waist – making it easy for opponents to snatch it away from her.
Mungedi found herself back on the bench.
However, she was able to build her basketball IQ by watching and by working on her game even after practice ended.
Nevada got a glimpse of how good she could be in the Pack’s final two games of last season. She tallied 18 points against Air Force in the first round game of the 2013 Mountain West Women’s Basketball tournament at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Wolf Pack won 80-66 and moved on to the MWC quarterfinals to face San Diego State. Although the Wolf Pack fell to the Aztecs, Mungedi recorded her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
She’s been the starting center for Nevada this season, and on Feb. 1 she notched a new career-high 24 points in the overtime victory against Air Force.
I think Mungedi’s success this season thrives from her strong faith in God, which she opened up to me about in my interview with her in November 2012 for my very first profile.
“I’ve always wanted to play basketball,” said Mungedi following the 2012-2013 season opener. “God gave me these long legs, and I felt like that’s what he wanted me to do.”
According to Mundegi, He’s even the reason why she’s in “The Biggest Little City” in the first place.
“I wanted the opportunity to pursue my education, while also playing basketball,” Mungedi said. “American universities provide a great opportunity for that, and I prayed and prayed about it. I asked God, and whether you believe me or not, he told me to go to Reno, Nevada. And I know God wants what’s best for me.”
Mimi’s journey hasn’t always been clear, but through her faith and dedication to the game, she’s just scratching the surface of her potential.
Alexa Ard can be reached at email@example.com.