After being spotted as one of the promising players to play Basketball in the USA in 2017, Rorisang Lesenyego put in enough hard work and dedication to make it a reality. She is the first player from the Royal Bafokeng Jr NBA Program to obtain a full high school scholarship to study in USA at West Oaks Academy.
She started her basketball journey in 2014 at Luka Primary School. In 2015, notable key factors such as her height and strong will granted her the opportunity to play for Molotlegi Middle School while still attending primary school and in 2016 she moved and spent four seasons under Kitsong.
Lesenyego obtained remarkable achievements while under the Royal Bafokeng Jr NBA Program such as being part of the team that won the 2017 Jr NBA Africa Festival. The 16-year-old made her breakthrough in 2018 by attending the NBA Academy Africa Women’s Program in Senegal, participating in the Basketball Without Borders Africa Camp and receiving her first national call up to represent South Africa in Botswana for the U16 Regional Championships, where she was named the captain of the team and led South Africa to the final against Angola where they walked away with silver medals.
With such an incredible build-up at an early stage in her career it was no surprise that Lesenyego kicked off with an impressive start when West Oaks opened the season on Thursday, 7 November 2019, with a 55-41 away win against Potterhouse. Lesenyego lead the Lady Flames to victory with 21 points and 8 rebounds and was awarded the Player of the Game. She has made six appearances with an average of more than 15 points per game.
The rising star took time to speak to gsport January Vacation Reporter, Dineo Modise, about her journey and new experience of playing in USA.
What impact has basketball made in your life?
Basketball has played a big role in my life. It has taught me how to be independent and it gave me the chance to meet different people with different languages and cultures. It has also taught me life lessons that I still carry with me today. Basketball isn’t just a sport to me, it’s a way of life. It has helped me avoid all the chaos happening in the streets as I became a student athlete.
How have you been able to cope with both your academics and playing basketball?
It isn’t easy to balance my academics and basketball. I just stay focused and stay ready mentally. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to balance everything so I just had to get out of my comfort zone and work pretty hard. I have a goal and that’s why I try so hard to balance and always keep my GPA at 4.
How are you adjusting to being in an entirely different country away from family and friends?
It took me a whole month to adjust. Truly speaking it has been so hard for me because I’ve never been to another continent, but I never let that get to my head because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I try speaking to my family and friends back home, so I don’t feel lonely and left out. Everyone from back home has been calling me, including the programs that I am in. I really appreciate the support structure I get from the Tunisi Program and I appreciate the Ball in Motion Program for preparing me for this moment.
In the past few months of playing in USA what have you been able to improve on?
I’ve improved in terms of speed, handles and I communicate better. I can also shoot, have gained confidence and I’ve matured.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My mom, my dad and granny have been my inspiration. I play for them. Every time I think of letting go I think of them. They are my role models, my motivation and inspiration.
What crucial advice have your parents, coaches and community given you?
My parents told me to work hard and always remember where I come from “Maropeng gwa boelwa” and that I’ll always be African no matter what. My coaches told me to stay woke. They told me that this is not the end, it is just the beginning. My community told me they gave me the basic fundamentals and laid the foundation for me and now it’s my time to build and open doors for others back home.
What big game are you and your team currently preparing for?
My team and I are preparing for the state championships, which we want to take with both hands. I believe we can take it together as a family.
Which position do you play?
I am a global player. You can give me any position and I will give it my best.
Lesenyego hopes to touch the lives of more Africans, even in the deepest corners of Africa and motivate them that anything is possible. We wish her all the best in her journey and she continues to make her family, her country and Africa proud.
To keep up with Rorisang Lesenyego you can follow her page on Facebook as Rorisang Ricky.
To know more about Rorisang’s Basketball story watch here:
— NBA Africa (@NBA_Africa) November 6, 2019
Photo 1 Caption: Rorisang Lesenyego is the first player from the Royal Bafokeng Jr NBA Program to obtain a full high school scholarship to study in USA. Photo: @WestOakAcad
Photo 2 Caption: Rorisang Lesenyego playing in Dakar, Senegal at the NBA Africa Academy. Photo: Royal Bafokeng Jr.NBA
With editing by gsport