DCA’s Mbugua reopened recruitment

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

She has gone from a relatively unknown player going into the 2023-24 basketball season to not only a first-team all-state selection but a major recruiting target.

Danville Christian Academy’s Grace Mbugua ranked among the top 10 in the state in scoring (25.7 points per game, fifth), rebounding (15.4 per game, second) and field-goal shooting (61.8 percent, seventh) during her junior season. She also averaged 6.6 blocks per game.

More importantly, DCA went 29-3, won its first 12th Region championship and came close to a monumental upset of Cooper in the opening round of the state tournament. She had 34 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals despite playing the entire second half with four fouls.

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The 6-5 Mbugua, a one-time Liberty commitment who has re-opened her recruitment, has scored 2,007 career points and grabbed 1,527 career rebounds and is one pace to become the first Kentucky girl to have 2,000 career points and rebounds.

“That’s really incredible and I praise God for it. I just don’t even know what to say. Just praise God for the thing you know?” she said about the potential rebounding record.

Mbugua recently talked about her journey from Africa to DCA, the improvement in her game and the college attention she’s now receiving.

Question:  How did life change for you after the state tournament?

Mbugua: “It’s been full of answered prayers. Things that have been on my heart like colleges reaching out and talking to me and it just opened doors.”

Question: So has that surprised you or were you expecting that to happen?

Mbugua: “The thing that surprised me is how quickly my prayers were answered. I mean, just from that one game. So many open doors and coaches and colleges just reaching out, so that’s been the really overwhelming part of it just how God has been so good to me.”

Question: But after the way you dominated the 12th Region Tournament and then played so well at the state, didn’t you think coaches were going to  notice?

Mbugua: “I was always hoping that. Putting the work in and trusting God. If it is God’s will for me to get all these other colleges calling then it will happen.”

Question: When you came to Danville in the seventh grade had you always played basketball or did you just start when you got here?

Mbugua: “I just started. My first game I was in eighth grade because the first year I couldn’t play because of the (eligibility) rules and everything. I was just new to everything. The workouts and practice were hard. I was always crying and throwing up. But I pushed through.”

Question: Could you shoot and make shots and dribble the ball immediately or did all that come hard to you?

Mbugua: “It was really hard. We have a clip of me playing here. I was posted up and they passed me the ball and I turned around and shot it over the backboard. I could barely even run up and down the court. I was really, really new to everything.”

Question: When did you start thinking you could be pretty good at basketball?

Mbugua: “Probably eighth grade. Coach believed in me and was pushing me through and knowing that he’s doing all this because he knows I have the potential to be great. So that was really a big part of me pushing myself and knowing I can be better and I can keep working for something.”

Question: So how much time did you put in?

Mbugua: “We would have workouts before school here at 7 a.m. I would come and shoot before classes and then we’d have ball handling and shoot and then after school obviously have a two-hour practice. Sometimes I would go over to Coach’s house because he has a basketball court at his house. I would ask what I needed to keep working on and just do the same little things over and over again.”

Question: So what made you want to come here to begin with?

Mbugua: “At first my sister was over here and I thought it was really cool that she played basketball and I wanted to do the same thing and make my parents proud. I’m really glad I came here because it’s more than basketball to me in this school and with coaches it is more than basketball. A big part of it was basketball, but also just getting the experience to grow and learn from other people. I enjoy having sisters and a second pair of parents (Miranda and Justin Boyd).”

Question: How often do you get a chance to see your parents?

Mbugua: “I go home almost every summer but my mom came here to visit so I could do summer camps. I usually go home for about two months. My parents watch games (online) and thought the state tournament game was really cool.”

Question: Are you becoming a national hero back home? Are little girls growing up wanting to be the next Grace Mbugua now?

Mbugua: “Yes. My parents have been getting just a few phone calls from coaches, but I’m just thankful for the opportunity to glorify God on a bigger stage. It’s kind of nice also to be able to show younger girls, ‘Okay, if this can happen to me, maybe it can happen to you too.’ It’s really an honor to be an example basketball wise and spiritual wise for the younger girls that look up to me.”

Question: When you do get to go home and visit, what’s that like for you?

Mbugua: “They’re just happy to see me. Being gone for a while they are just glad I’m coming back safe and sound and just getting to catch up with family and stuff. So it’s more about the family side rather than basketball.”