Leta Otuafi, who spent one year at Utah State Eastern after leading Fallon to three state championships, verbally committed to Nevada last week.
Leta Otuafi fell in love with the game all over again.
After leading Lady Wave to three-straight state basketball championships, the 2019 Fallon grad wasn’t sure what the future would look at the next level. When she arrived at Utah State Eastern, a junior college in Price, Utah, Otuafi was re-energized after contemplating whether basketball would be in her future. The new energy and love of the game that propelled her to become one of Fallon’s best basketball players led to Otuafi having a banner season at Eastern.
And it caught the attention of the University of Nevada, which offered Otuafi a full-ride scholarship to compete for the Lady Pack this year. Otuafi joins her cousin, Leilani Otuafi, who finished her freshman year at BYU, as the only two Fallon basketball players competing in Division I.
“I was trying to stay focused, keep my feet on the ground and keep working,” Leta Otuafi said about her goals in her first collegiate season.
At Eastern, Otuafi racked up multiple player-of-the-week honors and finished her first season with an honorable mention All-American award. She started in 28 of 28 games, averaging 13.1 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game, while making almost half (48.9) of her shots for the Golden Eagles.
Otuafi, who along with her cousin attracted attention from Nevada in high school, said she was being looked at by several Division II schools and a couple Division I schools. But they were interested in the player she would become after spending two years – not one – with the Eagles.
It wasn’t until two weeks ago, though, that Nevada started looking at Otuafi again and talking with her coach at Eastern. What Nevada noticed during the second take, according to Otuafi, was her ability to play along the perimeter and handle the ball, in addition to playing in the post.
“I actually just spoken to (head) coach (Amanda) Livens,”
Otuafi said on Friday. “They were always looking at me in high school. For how
big I was and the position I was playing in AAU and high school, I was playing
only the four or the five. At the time, they felt like that’s all I could play.
Eastern opened my game more so I could come out in the perimeter. Instead of
being a 4 or 5, I was able to handle the ball more. Now they can see that I can
Along with Otuafi expanding her skill set, Nevada had multiple scholarships remaining after several players entered the transfer portal. Otuafi, though, is a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and doesn’t have any regrets that it took an extra year to land at a Division I school.
“When she watched me play, she said that was their style,”
Otuafi said. “I’m versatile and can play in the post. I can make plays, too.
They want their posts, their fours, to be able to handle and shoot the ball.”
And now Otuafi will get to play in front of the home crowd, including her family. She plans on spending the summer preparing for the transition to Nevada and said she’s grateful for not only the scholarship offer, but she’s excited about playing in Reno.
“Now, my grandma can come watch all my games. That’s probably the best part about it,” she said.