The minutes were there for the taking for sophomore forward Yvonne Ejim. The loss of the Wirth sisters meant not just more minutes but also an increased role whenever Ejim would see the floor at the four.
The expectations were high for Ejim, considering glimpses shown in her freshman season and the flashes of excellence shown in her appearances on the Canadian U19 and U17 teams in international competition. It was clear that she was a special scorer and rebounder that was able to play with a premier motor.
Tempering the loss of leadership, Melody Kempton earned the starting minutes for the Bulldogs this season, but Ejim saw her minutes grow from 6.6 minutes per contest her freshman season to 20.8 minutes. In that expanded role she demonstrated an ability to defend, rebound and attack the basket.
In those larger but still limited minutes, Ejim averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds. She was a contributor in many facets, 2.2 offensive rebounds to go with her 5.6 total rebounds and averaged 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks on the defensive end. She had a Defensive Rating of 78 this season, significantly the best rating on the team and notable for the number of minutes she played.
Ejim was great at protecting not just the paint but driving and passing lanes. She had four games where she recorded over 3 blocks and five games with 3 steals or more. Her steal rate of 3.2% and block rate of 6.4% put her in the 94th and 96th percentile in the country for each category according to Her Hoop Stats.
The forward was ruthless in driving to the basket. Averaging 8.4 points per game from 2-point, Ejim was one of the most elite scorers in the country down low. Her aforementioned offensive rebounding made her great at putbacks as well. She scored double digits in 18 games this season, with a high of 22 against the third-place Portland Pilots. Her season-high also coincided with one of two double-doubles she recorded this season.
Ejim’s output off of the bench earned her WCC Sixth Woman of the Year and second-team honors for the conference. She closed the season by averaging 11 points in the NCAA tournament on 70% shooting from the field and 88% from the free throw line. Already one of the more complete players to put on the Zags uniform, the 2022 offseason could lead to yet another jump in Ejim’s already impressive game.