David Borne | Sports Editor
Nov. 14, 2019
Basketball has taken Wumi Agunbiade all over the world.
Between multiple stops in Pittsburgh and playing professionally in Germany, Italy and Romania, the Pickering, Ontario native has traveled the globe to chase her dreams as a player and coach.
Now as a junior coach for Raptors 905, the NBA G-League affiliate of the Toronto Raptors, Agunbiade finally has a chance to reach her goals close to home.
“Being at home and doing something I love is a reward within itself,” Agunbiade said. “Now coming back home and being a part of an organization that I’ve always dreamt of being a part of is a dream come true.”
Agunbiade’s journey brought her to Duquesne as a freshman in 2010. Duquesne’s current head coach, Dan Burt, who then served as an assistant on Suzie McConnell-Serio’s staff, recruited Agunbiade to the Bluff.
During her tenure at Duquesne, the forward established herself as one of the most impactful players in program history.
She finished her collegiate career as Duquesne’s second all-time leading scorer, racking up 1,776 points in her four seasons. Agunbiade remains the only player in Duquesne women’s basketball history to score over 1,700 points and grab 900 rebounds.
Agunbiade went on to play professionally for three seasons overseas. Her playing career concluded in 2017 after spending a season with TSV 1880 Wasserburg in the German DBBL League and the EuroCup.
Her first experience on the sidelines came as a graduate assistant with the University of Pittsburgh’s women’s team in August, 2017.
After two seasons at Pitt, the chance to be a part of the Raptors 905 staff opened up.
“The opportunity I was looking for was really just anything that allowed me to continue working in the game and growing,” Agunbiade said. “An old coach of mine who is tightly affiliated with 905, he shared with me an opportunity to work with the team. So I went ahead, sought after it, was offered the job and didn’t hesitate whatsoever to get after it.”
The transition to coaching has been smooth for Agunbiade.
“Her ability to relate to others is very good and her professional basketball experience gives her strong credibility while developing her coaching experience,” Burt said.
“I’m very excited that Wumi is able to stay in her hometown to help coach the 905. The 905 coaching staff is excellent and will be great teachers and collaborators for Wumi as she starts her coaching journey”.
Lessons learned from both Burt and McConnell-Serio are still something Agunbiade carries with her. While a number of those are basketball related, the biggest is about how to handle relationships off of the court.
Now in a different role, Agunbiade tries to relay the same messages to the players she works with on a daily basis.
“Both of them really had a good part and a good teaching to me that I now take with me. The one thing is treating people with utmost respect, first and foremost,” Agunbiade said. “Both of them preach this, they worked with each other years beyond me working at Duquesne.”
“They had similar messages and it was first about people. You treat people with respect and what you give is what you get. That’s what I tell now and preach with the people that I work with.”
Raptors 905 opened up its regular season slate against the Grand Rapids Drive on Nov. 8 in Mississauga. 905 would go on to lose the game by a score of 109-44.
While the result was ultimately not what Agunbiade had hoped for, the night wrapped up in a way that was worth more than any season-opening win or loss.
She was greeted by a large group of her family members and friends — the same group that has supported and followed her for years throughout her journey.
“My family being my core and my backbone, they’ve been with me the entire ride from day one until now,” Agunbiade said. “Now I’m able to put two of the most important pieces of my life together and I feel entirely whole. It’s an awesome feeling.”