ASU women’s basketball junior Promise Amukamara’s growth attributed to upbringing and confidence

Junior guard Promise Amukamara attempts a layup in the final moments against OSU on Jan. 31. Amukamara made four steals in the second half, leading to a comeback and eventual win for ASU 64-62. (Photo by Andrew Ybanez)

Junior guard Promise Amukamara attempts a layup in the final moments against OSU on Jan. 31. Amukamara made four steals in the second half, leading to a comeback and eventual win for ASU 64-62. (Photo by Andrew Ybanez)

Junior guard Promise Amukamara was born an athlete.

She is one of six children to Christy and Romanus Amukamara. Promise is one of five girls, with her brother, New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara the only boy.

The Amukamara children were always in competition with each other growing up.

 
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“It was very competitive; everyone just wanted to be the best, not just in sports, but in school,” Prince said. “We would always compare our report cards, competed for our parents affection. I think it was natural.”

Promise’s love of sports was instilled in her at an early age.

“My mom ran track for the Nigerian National Olympic team, and my dad was a soccer player, so our athleticism and ambition for sports came from them,” Promise said. “My older sister was the first one of the kids to get into sports, and it trickled down from there.”

Even early on, Prince said he and the rest of his family saw something promising in his sister.

“Promise was the one that we looked at like she was all of us put together,” he said. “She had our minds, our athletic ability, everyone loved her, and she was smart, too.”

Although most of her family’s love of sports started on the track, Promise had a different route into athletics.

“I picked up basketball first, in elementary school,” she said. “The first time I ran track was in middle school, and I only ran track because my sisters and brother did it.”

Promise did not share the same joy of running that her family did.

“Being from Arizona, since it’s always hot, I hated running outside,” Promise said. “I had to find an inside sport, so I just fell in love with basketball and developed my skills.”

It was never Promise’s initial ambition to play in college, but once everyone around her told her that she could, it became a goal.

“In high school, I never really thought about playing in college until people told me I was good enough to play at the next level,” Promise said. “So I just worked even harder.”

Taking the next step

Toward the end of her high school career, mutual interest grew between Promise and ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne.

Turner Thorne saw her at a camp and was intrigued by the guard from Glendale.

“She came to our team camp and I thought ‘Wow, she’s gotten a lot better,’” Turner Thorne said. “We invited her to our elite camp, and I said, ‘I’m going to start to watch you.’ I watched every game, and she shot gaps quicker than I had seen anybody shoot a gap in my entire coaching career. That is special, and obviously she’s done that for us and been quick at keeping people in front of her. You can’t coach that.”

The recruiting process was a relatively easy one for Promise.

“I was receiving offers from universities for track and basketball, but I never really liked running. I just did it because my family did,” Promise said. “I really enjoyed playing basketball, so that’s what I chose.”

Through her time at ASU, Promise has had her main success on the defensive side of the ball.

“She has certainly, in our program, utilized her athletic ability and her high motor in order to work hard for us defensively,” Turner Thorne said.

This year, Promise has blossomed into the defensive stopper for the Sun Devils, much to the pleasure of Turner Thorne. Amukamara has averaged 7.9 points and 1.7 steals per game while starting all but one of the Sun Devils’ games this season.

“I think she’s grown this year in her determination and her ownership that she’s really our defensive leader,” Turner Thorne said. “It’s her charge to make sure the team, not just her, is locked in and everything is going.”

Promise has been doing it all year long, and Turner is impressed by the job that her defensive specialist is doing for her team.

“I would say she has fully embraced her role this year, which is a big reason why we’re at where we’re at,” Turner Thorne said.

Prince has seen a progression in his sister’s play from the games that he’s seen her play this season.

“I was in Arizona a couple weeks ago and saw the games against Stanford and Cal and I think her biggest thing has been confidence,” Prince said. “Promise is starting to gain her confidence the more she plays and it has been helping her.”

Promise, like most of her family, has stuck around the Valley for school and she knew that ASU was the school for her.

The pipeline continues

Promise isn’t the only Amukamara coming through the ASU ranks. Her younger sister Peace, a basketball player at Mesa Community College has committed to play with Promise and the Sun Devils next season.

Promise is excited about the opportunity to play with her sister.

“I think her decision had to do with me being here,” Promise said. “She likes playing with me, and we live together in the same apartment, so I think she wanted to stay close.”

Promise’s brother Prince was a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and currently is a cornerback for the New York Giants. It can be said that there is something in the familial line about playing defense, but Prince firmly believes the credit goes completely to his sister for what she has been able to accomplish athletically.

“I think that just speaks about Promise and her natural ability and her hard work,” he said. “For her to do all the things that people don’t normally do, whether it be taking charges or whether it be just locking on to the team’s top player.”

Reach the reporter at mtonis@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Tonis_The_Tiger