Why Amida Brimah Is UConn’s X-Factor
Accra, Ghana is the West African nation’s capital city, home to over four million inhabitants, including Connecticut Huskies center Amida Brimah. The 7-foot big man has made it onto the college basketball scene, traveling from a land that is rumored to be afflicted with a 25 percent poverty rate.
It all began one morning when basketball scout Nana Baafi, who eventually became his guardian, noticed the tall teenager and approached him on the way to school and explained what opportunities could arise from playing the game of basketball.
Baafi convinced Brimah of his potential and moved to the United States with him, knowing that bountiful opportunities would await. They landed in Miami, where Brimah enrolled in high school and joined an AAU team. His progression surprised everyone, maybe even himself.
In just his third year of playing the sport, he led Archbishop Carroll High School to a 26-5 overall record, putting up 15.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 7.2 blocks per game. Not bad for having no experience before Baafi walked into his life. All of his coaches have been huge fans of his work ethic so far and that goes a long way, especially when vying for playing time and reaching the highest attainable level of play.
Now in his fourth year of organized basketball, Brimah has shown that he was certainly meant to play the game. A speaker of six languages, he wears the unwritten, unspoken language of passion on his sleeve, and inspires his teammates to act similarly. Through the first two games, he has averaged 6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in 19.5 minutes. His 10 blocks lead the American Athletic Conference by five swats.
While the points and rebounding numbers don’t jump out at you, the blocks certainly do. Points and rebounds will come with more minutes and more opportunities, and Brimah has shown that he will be a viable option for the starting center role on this squad.
In the season opener against Maryland, Brimah only played 15 minutes, but was very productive, putting up five points, taking in three rebounds and swatting three shots in that limited time. Kevin Ollie was happy with Brimah’s impact and rewarded him with 24 minutes versus Yale, in which he recorded seven points, one rebound and a game-high seven blocked shots.
In Thursday’s matchup against Detroit, I expect Brimah to take sophomore Phillip Nolan’s spot in the starting lineup, which will allow Brimah more opportunities to shine. After Ollie mentioned how upset he was after last game’s debacle rebounding the ball, it will be interesting to see how the team responds after a few days of tough practices.
If Brimah can be the inside presence that the Huskies have been looking for, the rest of the college basketball world should be on the lookout.