The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team gained the commitment of another top-flight recruit last week when Gatineau’s Brigitte Lefebvre-Okankwu signed her letter of intent. A dynamic two-way player from CEGEP Nouvelles Frontières, she joins Nova Scotia standout Maia Timmons as the inside-outside combo for 2017-18.
Head coach Andy Sparks anticipates a skilled squad next season with Lefebvre-Okankwu, a 6-foot-1 forward, as a strong contributor. “She can guard anybody,” says Sparks. “She has good feet, length and quickness. She’s a superb athlete and an outstanding student so we are proud to welcome her to the team.”
Lefebvre-Okankwu was recognized as a CEGEP All-Star in 2015-16 after leading the league in points with 18.4 per game and field goal percentage at 56 per cent. She also led her team with 6.2 rebounds per game. This season she stands at 19.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game including a 31-12 double-double – one of five this year.
“A lot of things played into my decision but I loved how the team put all their hearts on the court,” explains Brigitte, who saw the Gee-Gees in action twice this season at Montpetit Hall before committing. “That’s not something you can teach to a team, either they have it or they don’t and I’m really happy that I’ll be part of this team."
Originally hailed as a competitive soccer player, Lefebvre-Okankwu has been focused on basketball exclusively since her final year of high school. “It’s hard to explain when and why exactly my change of heart happened but maybe it’s the quickness of the game, the chemistry of basketball teams, the intensity that made my heart want to pursue the sport that I’ve become passionate about.”
She credits her coach at Nouvelles Frontières, Pat Bibeau, for teaching her to execute techniques in basketball, as well as learning the strategy of the game. She hopes to continue to learn under the Gee-Gees coaching staff while also pursuing her degree in biomedical science.
“Andy and Pat, really believe in my potential and I would not want to do less than to honour that,” she says. Sparks coached Lefebvre-Okankwu at a summer program when she was playing U16 as an under-ager.
“I’ve grown so much since I entered CEGEP, in basketball and in life, I’m going to miss the teachers, my classmates, my team, my coach, but I’m excited for the new journey to come.”
While staying close to home was important, Brigitte did have one family connection to uOttawa. Her cousin, Gift, competed for uOttawa in track and field, garnering an OUA bronze medal in 2014-15 as part of the 4x400m relay crew. “I never raced her but I would ask her for a piggy back ride,” says the recruit with a laugh.