December 12, 2005

Chisa Ononiwu, a Transfer from Baylor, Joins the Gauchos

Dec. 12, 2005

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Chisa Ononiwu, a 5'7" guard from Houston, Texas, has accepted a scholarship offer to study and play basketball at UC Santa Barbara, head coach Mark French announced Monday

Ononiwu, formerly at Baylor University, will begin practicing with the Gauchos in January. Pursuant to NCAA Division I transfer rules, she is not eligible to compete for a full academic year, and will first suit up for the UCSB following the conclusion of the fall 2006 quarter. Ononiwu will then be able to play for the remainder of next season, as well as the entire 2007-08 campaign. She played 11 minutes during Baylor's first exhibition game of 2005-06, and has thus exhausted her sophomore year of eligibility; Ononiwu will be considered a junior once she takes the court for Santa Barbara.

As a true freshman with the Lady Bears in 2004-05, Ononiwu averaged 1.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 13 games played. Her career highs of eight points, five rebounds and 12 minutes played all came during a victory over Montana State on Dec. 29, 2004. Meanwhile she grabbed a steal in one minute of action as BU defeated Michigan State in the 2005 NCAA championship game to claim the program's first-ever national title. An outstanding student who plans to major in biology, Ononiwu earned a spot on the Big 12 Conference Honor Roll for maintaining a grade point average above 3.0.

"We are excited to welcome such a tremendous player and person to our Gaucho family," Santa Barbara head coach Mark French stated. "Chisa is very athletic and a great defender - two things we pride ourselves on here at UCSB - and will be able to come in and help us right away. In addition, Chisa excels in the classroom and is looking forward to challenging herself academically at UCSB."

Ononiwu enjoyed an outstanding prep career at Houston's Westfield High School, leading the Mustangs to the Class 5A State title game as a senior. She scored 20 points en route to MVP honors of the championship game, and averaged 10.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the entire tournament. Westfield also made a state finals appearance in 2003. Ononiwu was a first team all-state honoree in 2004 after earning all-region acclaim as a junior. In track and field, she established a school record in the 300 hurdles as a sophomore and was a two-time regional qualifier.

Ononiwu becomes the second member of Baylor's 2005 NCAA championship team to join the Gauchos in recent months. In August, 6'1" junior forward Emily Niemann transferred to UCSB, and will have two full seasons of eligibility beginning in 2006-07. She was named to the Final Four All-Tournament team last year after scoring 19 points against Michigan State as well as 14 in the national semifinals vs. LSU. Niemann averaged 9.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and a school-record .451 three-point field goal percentage during her two-year Baylor career. Ononiwu and Niemann were also AAU basketball teammates with Houston Hoops.

In addition to the two Baylor transfers, Santa Barbara will add a pair of true freshmen to its roster for 2006-07. Jordan Franey, a 6'0" forward from La Mesa, Calif., and 5'10" guard Meagan Williams of Sacramento signed National Letters of Intent to attend UCSB in November.

In 2005-06, the Gauchos currently hold a 1-6 record and return to action on Saturday, Dec. 17, hosting 22nd-ranked UCLA in the Thunderdome at 2:00 p.m. UCSB has won an unprecedented 10 consecutive Big West Conference regular season titles and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last nine years.