College basketball star Maya Nnaji has big dreams of becoming a physician.
According to Shine My Crown, the University of Arizona sophomore has decided to take a step away from the basketball program to pursue her lifelong dream in the medical field.
“I would like to thank the Wildcat Nation for embracing me and my family, and showing unwavering love and support,” she wrote in a statement shared on Instagram.
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“In light of recent events, it has become clear to me that I need to reprioritize my main goal and true life’s purpose: becoming a physician,” Nnaji continued. “With the support of my family and guidance from Above, I am stepping away from basketball to start a new chapter in my life. Please respect my decision and refrain from entertaining any speculation from outside sources.”
Currently, Nnaji is enrolled in Arizona’s Accelerated Pathway to Medical Education Program (APME) and has a clear vision of taking what she learns and using it to improve healthcare in her father’s homeland — Nigeria.
With her involvement in such a rigorous program as well as an intense schedule as a member of a Power 5 women’s college basketball program, the balancing act between the two proved to be a bit overbearing for the sophomore.
Her coach, Adia Barnes, supports Nnaji’s decision to focus on academics and says the door for a potential return in the future is open.
What’s more, Barnes also acknowledges the challenge that comes with focusing on both academic commitments and athletic responsibilities, noting the importance of supporting student-athletes as they navigate their academic endeavors.
“It’s student-athletes, not athletes-students,” said Barnes. “That’s a perfect example.”
After arriving in Tucson, AZ, as the highest-ranked recruit in the school’s history, Nnaji played nine games this season, averaging 10.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.