Camille Cooper Ozumba has found success at each stop along the way of her hall of fame career
Camille Cooper never knew exactly where basketball would take her.
“I really just started playing because I was tall and athletic,” she said.
Camille — a 1997 graduate of Scott County High School — now goes by the name Camille Cooper Ozumba after marriage in 2007.
It’s one of the many moments in Cooper Ozumba’s life that have made it momentous.
She’ll add another to collection later this year when she, along with Rebecca Gray and the 2010 Lady Cardinals basketball team, are inducted into the SCHS Athletics Hall of Fame as the 2016 class.
“I’m honored,” Cooper Ozumba said. “It’s always good to reflect and I always love to come home and think of the good times.
“To be honored like this, it’s really nice. Especially to experience it with my husband and kids alongside me as a family.”
As a Lady Cardinal, Cooper Ozumba’s career is as storied as any.
As a sophomore in 1995 she was a part of a state championship team.
That same year she set a state record for highest field goal percentage in a state tournament game, finishing 10-10 (1oo percent) from the field in a single game.
The state title in 1995 for SCHS was the school’s first basketball state championship — either boys or girls.
It started a historic run for both programs, which has continued today.
“What I remember most about the state championship was the excitement of the community behind us,” Cooper Ozumba said. “The most memorable part wasn’t even the game, but it was coming home and seeing the people lined up down the streets.
“It feels good we were the first to set the standard going forward.”
As a junior Cooper Ozumba committed to play for Purdue University.
A year later she was a Kentucky all-star, first-team all-state and the MVP of the Eighth Region.
She averaged 28.1 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks per game as a senior, while shooting 70 percent from the floor.
“That stuff is awesome to think about,” Cooper Ozumba said. “But I had very humbling beginnings.”
So humble in fact, Cooper Ozumba’s first-ever basketball shot in an actual game was on the wrong goal.
“We were playing Bourbon County,” she said. “Luckily it didn’t go in and I got the rebound. I guess I was just padding my stats.”
At Purdue, Cooper Ozumba accomplishments continued.
She helped lead the Boilermakers to a national championship in 1999.
As a senior, her team advanced to the finals again, but this time fell short.
After college, Cooper Ozumba was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 16th pick in the first round of the WNBA draft.
But shortly after the season started, she was traded to the New York Liberty, where she played for two seasons.
A back injury forced her to cut her playing career short.
“I had already been accepted into Duke Law School, so after the WNBA I decided to take time off to pursue my education.”
While at Duke she met her future husband, Donald Ozumba, who is an orthepidic surgeon.
The couple have three children with one on the way as Cooper Ozumba is expecting.
“God really blessed me to have the opportunities that I’ve had,” she said.
Cooper Ozumba is now practicing as an attorney in Dallas.
“My basketball days were priceless,” Cooper Ozumba said. “It taught you a lot of off-the-court skills.
“As a lawyer, you need some of those skills — performing under pressure, being flexible, having a strong work ethic.”
When Cooper Ozumba is inducted into the SCHS Hall of Fame it will be yet another reunion for her and longtime friend and teammate Ukari Figgs.
Figgs was an inaugural member of the hall of fame in 2008.
“We’ve had a lifelong friendship,” Cooper Ozumba said.
The pair were both on the 1995 state championship at Scott County.
They both played for Purdue on the 1999 national championship team.
Figgs was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four that year.
And when Cooper Ozumba was drafted by the Sparks, Figgs was on that team too.
“I remember the first time we ever met,” Cooper Ozumba said. “It was after a loss against Oldham County. I think she growled at me. I was two years behind her, so meeting her was a little intimidating. But it was the beginning of a great run together.”
Cooper Ozumba said she most wanted to thank the members of the Scott County community for standing behind her.
“I’m very thankful to every teacher, to every fan, my family and everyone else that poured into my life, believed in me, encouraged me and expected the best out of me,” she said. “My husband is from Nigeria where he says it takes a village to raise a child.
“That was the case for me. Georgetown always will have a special place in my heart.”