UNLV LADY REBELS SIGN ESSENCE BOOKER, NNEKA OBIAZOR
Booker returns to her hometown after three seasons at UNR and Ball State while Obiazor comes after her freshman year at Youngstown State
UNLV women’s basketball announced two additions to next year’s roster as Las Vegas native Essence Booker and the Horizon Conference Freshman of the Year Nneka Obiazor will both be signing with the Lady Rebels, Head Coach Lindy La Rocque announced on Tuesday.
Booker played her first two seasons at in-state rival UNR before transferring to Ball State last summer. She will have two years of eligibility remaining at UNLV. Obiazor, meanwhile, will have three years of eligibility as she recently finished up her freshman season at Youngstown State.
“We are thrilled to add Essence to our Lady Rebel family, and glad to have another Las Vegas native on the team!” said La Rocque. “She is a dynamic guard who can score and handle the ball at a high level. Her college basketball experience is going to have a great impact on our team.”
A 5-8 guard, Booker had a stellar sophomore season at UNR in which she earned Mountain West Honorable Mention after pacing the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game. She also shot a team-high 35.8% from three-point range after knocking down 53 of 148 from behind the arc, and added a team-best 2.4 assists as well. She scored in double-figures in 21 games her sophomore year while picking up one MW Player of the Week honor, starting 42 total games over her two years in Reno.
After transferring to Ball State, she started eight of the first nine games after receiving a NCAA waiver to play immediately, before dealing with injuries for the second half of the season. Booker still finished the season fifth on the team in scoring with 10.9 points per game, which included seven double-figure scoring games in her 13 total appearances for the Cardinals.
Booker was a three-time second-team all-state honoree for Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas. As a senior, she averaged 16.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 4.3 steals per game. She helped the Grizzlies to two conference titles and the 2015 state championship title. As a freshman, she was named all-region and conference MVP as well.
“We are super excited to welcome Nneka as a Lady Rebel,” said La Rocque of Obiazor. “Her ability to shoot the 3 and be physical in the post adds great versatility to our team and offense. She is a smart, mature and driven young woman who wants to compete for championships here at UNLV.”
A 5-10 forward from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Obiazor claimed the Horizon League Freshman of the Year honors after leading all conference freshmen in rebounding (8.3 rpg) while adding 15.2 ppg, the second-highest scoring average among the league’s freshmen. She picked up Freshman of the Week honors four of the eight weeks that YSU competed during the season, and overall ranked eighth in scoring, fifth in rebounding, fourth in field goal percentage (48.5%) and was tied sixth with three double-doubles. Her season-high 29 points against Cleveland State tied for the fourth-highest point total in the conference this season. Obiazor was also selected to the All-Horizon League Third Team.
She earned all-conference all four years at Eden Prairie High School, and also claimed honorable mention all-state her senior year after leading the Eagles to a sectional championship and the school’s first trip to the state tournament since the 2013-14 season along with a No. 10 final ranking in the state. Obiazor finished the season as the No. 6 ranked player in Minnesota in the 2020 graduating class, and was a member of the Prep Girls Report 2020 AAU All-Star Team. She also claimed honorable mention all-state as a junior after averaging 16 points and eight rebounds.
Booker and Obiazor will be the sixth and seventh players to join the Lady Rebels in the fall, along with fall signees Alyssa Durazo-Frescas (Costa Mesa, California), Alyssa Brown (Tucson, Arizona), Kenadee Winfrey (Canyon, Texas), Kiara Jackson (Grand Prairie, Texas) and Taylin Smith (Beaverton, Oregon).