Tomi Taiwo on her basketball experiences

Iowa v Michigan
Tomi Taiwo played four years at Iowa. | Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Tomi Taiwo is getting ready for the Olympics with Nigeria.

From 2018 to 2022, Tomi Taiwo played for the Iowa Hawkeyes, before finishing out her college career at TCU thanks to the extra year of eligibility available to her because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, she moved to Portugal to play for Esgueira, while continuing to make appearances for the Nigerian national team, helping the D’Tigress progress to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

The 5-foot-10 guard spent some time with us to talk about her unique career.

After spending 4 years at Iowa, you decided to transfer to TCU. Can you explain why?

We had discussions about the possibility of me playing for them during my extra year, but I had already made up my mind about transferring to another college for a different academic and basketball experience. Up to my senior year, I had spent my entire life in the Midwest, and I saw the Covid year as an opportunity to live and experience another part of the country. Importantly, I was looking for a particular Master’s program and Health Certificate combination, and it was obvious to me that TCU was the right fit. I have to say, though, that because of the interest from many coaches from various colleges across the country, the decision was more difficult to make than l initially thought. I would like to say that l enjoyed my four years at Iowa and I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of that program.

You had your best college season at TCU. Was it just playing time that elevated your game?

I think that the increased playing time during the extra year gave me the opportunity to really showcase my God-given basketball talent and play in a manner that those who coached me at different levels over the years knew I was capable of playing. I want to give a shout out to the coaching staff at TCU that year for believing in me and instilling a lot of confidence in me, especially considering it was my first year with the team. Forever grateful for that year.

This season marks your first time playing in Europe. What can you tell us about basketball culture in Portugal and your team, Esgueira?

The basketball culture in Portugal can be characterized as physical, smaller guards and versatile posts and some very passionate fans creating an intense environment! (In some crowds, you will even hear the drums). Esgueira leads with our defense and we pride ourselves on not taking a possession off. Good ball movement is another philosophy that we try to incorporate into our games and we thrive off of our amazing fans.

We’ll see you at this year’s Olympics playing for Nigeria. Take us through the qualifying tournament in Antwerp. You guys win your first game against Senegal, and what happens next? A lot of stress? Or were you confident that after beating Senegal you were getting in?

First of all, props to all the teams that competed in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Antwerp, Belgium. It was a competitive and fun environment to play in. After beating Senegal, I think we felt confident going into our second game and we were definitely not complacent. Anything can happen in the game of basketball so playing our hardest in each competition was vital to increasing our team’s chances of qualifying.

What can we expect from Nigeria in Paris?

You can expect resilience, toughness, as well as a will to improve and excel from the Nigerian team in the Paris 2024 Olympics.

And what do you bring to the table for the D’Tigress?

My strengths include my shooting ability, slashing to the rim, making free throws and defensive intensity. I am excited for this opportunity

A special thank you to Rui Mourinho, President of Esgueira Basket, for arranging the interview.

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