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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona recruits win NJCAA Championship

    Suzanne Bofia (52) and Beatrice Bofia (50) are being recruited by Arizona next year. The twins, who will transfer  from Illinois Central College as juniors, helped their team win the NJCAA Division II National Championship.
    Suzanne Bofia (52) and Beatrice Bofia (50) are being recruited by Arizona next year. The twins, who will transfer from Illinois Central College as juniors, helped their team win the NJCAA Division II National Championship.

    PHOENIX – It may have not have been Division I women’s college basketball, but two Wildcat recruits experienced a little March Madness of their own last weekend.

    Suzanne and Beatrice Bofia, the 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8 sophomore centers currently playing for Illinois Central College, cut down the nets after winning the NJCAA Division II Junior College Championships on Saturday at Phoenix College.

    The next task for the world’s tallest twins will be to provide an inside presence for the Arizona women’s basketball team when the junior college transfers add some much-needed height to the Wildcats’ lineup as juniors next year.

    “”Not only are they great players, but they’re great kids, and to have the opportunity to win a national championship – they’re just dominating,”” said Arizona head coach Joan Bonvicini, who attended Thursday’s quarterfinal game and Saturday’s championship game, snapping pictures of her future players with their championship trophy.

    “”Suzy is just a phenomenal athlete and can dominate inside with not only intimidation and scoring but with rebounding, and Beatrice, she only played a little bit, but she’s very good,”” she said.

    After losing in the championship game last season, the Bofias’ No. 1 Illinois Central College Lady Cougars beat No. 2 Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College 71-54. Suzanne’s play in the post helped the Cougars jump out to a 19-4 run to start the game and a 48-22 halftime lead, and they never looked back.

    “”Not only do they affect the game offensively, but defensively – and a lot of these things don’t show in the statistics. They’re just intimidating,”” Bonvicini said.

    Suzanne was second on the team in scoring with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, while Beatrice scored two points in two minutes with the contest long decided.

    For her efforts Suzanne was named to the NJCAA Division II Women’s National All-Tournament Team after averaging 16.7 points and 12.3 rebounds in the event, including a 22-point, 19-rebound performance in Illinois Central’s 82-80 semifinal win over Mott (Mich.) Community College.

    “”She’s so great, so wonderful,”” Beatrice said. “”My sister did a great job. I’m so proud of her.””

    The Bofias said Bonvicini and her coaching staff are the main reason they’re coming to Arizona.

    “”We truly believe Coach will help us make our dreams come true to go to the WNBA,”” Beatrice said. “”I also like the weather, and we have a friend there.””

    The friend happens to be freshman forward Amina Njonkou, who hails from Cameroon, Africa, just like the Bofias. The three will room together at Sam Hughes Place next year. Njonkou supported the Bofias by cheering them on to their championship Saturday.

    “”I’m excited to have them play with me,”” Njonkou said. “”If they come to Tucson and work hard, they’re going to help us a lot, but nothing comes easy.””

    After playing in America the past few years with no family but each other, adding a surrogate sister in Njonkou may help all three of them deal with their homesickness by becoming their own little family.

    “”Off the court, I love my sister so much,”” Beatrice said. “”We are together in this country. We left all of our family behind.””

    The Bofias have the raw talent and size to become a force, as Bonvicini said they did well going up against former Wildcat star center Shawntinice Polk when they worked out with the team earlier in the year.

    However, with Beatrice weighing just 200 pounds and Suzanne only 188 pounds, when they come to Arizona for the summer session they have an obvious task.

    “”We need to get stronger,”” Suzanne said.

    Suzanne said that her strengths are rebounding, speed and blocking shots, but Beatrice said both twins need to work on their offensive games.

    Bonvicini said the twins will fit in great with the rest of the team off the court because they have outgoing personalities.

    The Bofias already seemed like a part of the Arizona family after winning the championship. They took pictures with their trophy and many Arizona members in attendance, including Bonvicini, women’s basketball office specialist Lynn Turra and Bonvicini’s daughter.

    Bonvicini said they will be ready for the Division I level because of their summer work and the fact they played internationally for the Cameroonian National Team in the 2003 Olympic Qualifying Tournament. They also won a number of high school championships in Cameroon.

    “”America, we are ready, ready to play in the NCAAs,”” Beatrice said.

    Beside their talent, the twins may add some excitement to the Arizona program because both players can dunk. Beatrice impressed her future teammates by showing off that skill when they played pickup, and an Arizona player recorded the action on her phone.

    While the Bofias rarely played together at the junior college level, Bonvicini said she will pair them together, possibly going big with an all-Cameroonian frontcourt adding Njonkou to the mix.

    “”On the court we’ll love to play together,”” Beatrice said. “”That’ll be awesome. We didn’t play much together here, but we know that we’ll be ready to do that at Arizona.””

    Going big was never an option for Bonvicini last year, with no players taller than 6-foot-1 and Njonkou and will-be junior forward ChǸ Oh injured for a combined 32 games.

    “”It’s going to be a lot different,”” Bonvicini said. “”It’s just important for us to have a great offseason, which we will, and I know we’re just excited, but it all comes with preparation. Things will be a lot different.””

    Combined with incoming freshmen forwards Rheya and Rhaya Neabors, who just won a California state title, and guard Marie McGee, whose team finished second in New Mexico, it’s easy to see why Bonvicini is so excited about next year.

    “”Our kids that are there have great attitudes and work ethic, and we just need some reinforcements, and now we’ve got them,”” Bonvicini said.

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