After committing to attend and play basketball at the University of Buffalo earlier this fall, O’Fallon High School senior Celeste Akoro thought her future was secure.
Four months later, Akoro has that secure feeling again. But now it’s with Virginia Tech.
The 6-foot-3 Akoro has been released from her commitment to Buffalo and will join the Hokies for the 2017-18 season.
Akoro is forced to sit out her senior season with a torn right ACL.
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“They (Buffalo) had a senior who was scheduled to graduate, but she was granted a fifth year, and so she decided to come back and play next season,” Akoro said. “That meant that I was going to have to redshirt (sit out) next year, and I didn’t want to do that.
“I was able to get out of the commitment to Buffalo and re-opened the recruiting process. Virginia Tech came in right away. It’s a great school in a great conference in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), and I’ll have a chance to come in and make an impact right away.”
Akoro, who averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds and was second in the St. Louis area in blocked shots with 115 last season, is projected as a forward-center at the college level. Virginia Tech, under first-year coach Kenny Brooks, is 15-0 following a 78-69 win at Clemson on Saturday. Currently 2-0 in the ACC, the Hokies are ranked 18th in the Associated Press NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball poll.
While Akoro is excited about her future, she is disappointed that she has to sit out her senior season at O’Fallon because of an injury that occurred during an offseason clinic.
“I’m at the practices and go to the games. I’m there to support my teammates in any way I can,” Akoro said. “At times I want to jump out on the court and help my team. In that respect, it’s tough because this (basketball) has been my life for as long as I can remember.
“But in some respects its also been good because I’m able to sit on the bench and see things that coaches tell you that you don’t really worry about when you are playing the game. I’ve learned about the game this year, and I’ve learned how much I miss it when I’m not playing. I have a much greater appreciation for the sport than I ever have before.”
Akoro hopes to be released to begin working out in April. She will attend summer school at Virginia Tech beginning in July. She knows she needs to get bigger and stronger to compete in the ACC against national powers like Virginia, Duke and North Carolina.
“As long as I come in and work hard, I’ll be fine. The coaches have told me that they’ll help me in anyway they can to get ready for the challenges that I will face. I know that I have to get stronger and quicker, though,” Akoro said. “I’m just glad this decision is over with and that I have some place to play.”