Maverick Ahanmisi plays in 2016 for The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, a professional basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association owned by Asian Coatings Philippines, Inc. (Photo by Tristan Tamayo / Sports Inquirer)
Golden Valley High School

Maverick Ahanmisi’s journey — from high school basketball to playing professionally

Against the odds, Maverick Ahanmisi set his mind on becoming a dominant basketball player, leading to an incredible high school career followed by a division one college scholarship and eventually a chance to play professionally.

The springboard for his success was during his sophomore year at Golden Valley High School, although it was only the second year for the program he led the way for a run of excellence. Along with his teammates who were castoffs from other schools, as Golden Valley was a new school in the district Ahanmisi led the way averaging 12.5 points per game along with 1.3 steals, as well as a 43 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

Although the team’s record was 13-14, Ahanmisi offered a glimpse of hope for a young program that very desperately needed an up and comer to shine. His junior year, he averaged a team-leading 15.8 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, along with 1.8 steals. Ahanmisi was a leader for the team and continued to help the program grow, as this was only the team’s third year and they fought for a 12-15 record.

Finally, in his last year, he and his teammates took the league and state by storm, finishing with a 27-4 record and finishing being ranked No. 58 in the state along with winning their league for the first time. Without the career that Ahanmisi had, Golden Valley basketball would not have exploded into success as quickly as they did. His journey has been anything but easy, but throughout his life, the principle of never giving up let him accomplish a lifelong dream.

“I tried to surround myself with individuals who would push me to not be lazy,” Ahanmisi said.

Motivation like this is what separated Ahanmisi from the rest. While most high school kids spent their time hanging out with friends, going to parties, and playing video games, Ahanmisi spent his time training constantly with the goal of becoming great, fresh in his mind.

To be exact, the University of Minnesota was the ultimate school for him to continue his basketball career, as playing at any other school that was not as competitive and would not have satisfied his passionate craving to play against the best. He originally committed to Boise State University, however, due to his desire to play in a more competitive conference, he switched his commitment; thus beginning his collegiate career.

Once he got to college he realized that it’s a much different ball game as everyone on the team was the best on their high school team. Everyone was all league, all section and all state.

“You have now gone from being a top high school senior, to playing at 18 years old with grown men,” Ahanmisi said.

Collegiate basketball at that level is not meant simply for those who enjoy playing the game, but instead it is reserved for the best of the best, with people working just as hard as you every day. If you take one day off, you will be left behind and will never be able to hold your own in games let alone practice.

This shift demanded him to increase his work ethic and drive, as it is essential to be a consistently hard worker in order to succeed at that level. The trials that Ahanmisi faced as a freshman at Minnesota taught him resilience in basketball as well as life.

“I am faster, stronger, and wiser with the years I have played the sport and have been coached by so many greats,” Ahanmisi said.

Throughout his four years at the University of Minnesota, he provided a spark off of the bench as a role player averaging 2.8 points per game, one rebound per game, while scoring on 38 percent of his shots. No matter the trials, he set his mind on becoming a professional basketball player and he was not planning on quitting until he bore that title. Eventually, this dream came true.

“What I love about playing here is the atmosphere and the people, Philippines is a basketball crazy country, so when you become a PBA player here, you are treated like an NBA player,” Ahanmisi said.

Being half Nigerian and half Filipino, Ahanmisi was already very used to the culture and language, making his transition into the country relatively simple. But, his homesickness still crept throughout his mind, adding to the difficulties of  beginning a new life in a new home.

He was drafted with the third pick in the 2015 PBA draft by the Rise or Shine Elasto Painters. In his 2015-16 rookie season, he averaged 8.7 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game, and 2.7 assists per game, while shooting 35 percent from the three-point line and 41 percent from the field. Once again, no matter how many problems stacked up, his determination to play the game he loves triumphed over it all.

Ahanmisi is one of those that defied the odds. He wasn’t highly recruited out of high school but that didn’t deter him from achieving his dreams.

“Do not let anyone tell you that the percentage of kids in the world that get a scholarship is only five percent, because guess what, I was a young boy who was told that by my father, and now, I am a part of that five percent of kids who received a full ride,” Ahanmisi said.

A true example of an underdog fighting to achieve an incredible feat, Ahanmisi is an example to any young boys and girls that no one in this world has the right to tell you what you can or cannot be. He has consistently preached the art of refusing to give up even when the odds seem stacked against you. Although he is not yet sure about what his future holds, he is currently living out his dream of being a professional basketball player and has already surpassed many people who have given up along the way.