By Amanda Janczak
When the Harlem Globetrotters broke training camp in New York on Sept. 18, many star players headed straight to Bangor, Maine, to debut their 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour. But while the team was making its first stop on the tour, one Globetrotter was on her way to showcase her talents somewhere else.
Joyce “Sweet J” Ekworomadu (pronounced eck-wor-oh-MAA-doo), who is among the Globetrotters’ 2014 class of rookies, was on a plane to Maputo, Mozambique, Africa, where she competed with the Nigerian national team in the 23rd Afrobasket for Women tournament that ran from Sept. 20 to Sept. 29.
Nigeria finished sixth out of the 12 teams in the tournament, and Sweet J averaged 10.6 points and 2.2 steals per game in the last five games the team played.
Sweet J has been a member of the Nigerian national team since 2007. The parents of the Dallas native are from Nigeria but moved to the U.S. before she was born.
The 5-10 shooting star enjoys playing for the Nigerian national team because of the atmosphere and the expectations Nigeria has for the team. She said that playing in Mozambique was an extraordinary experience, because the crowds really get into the games.
“They have flags waving around, loud beating drums and air horns blowing in the middle of the games, which is a different feel from playing college ball in the States,” Sweet J said. “Because you are representing a whole country, there is a lot of pride involved.”
While Sweet J is proud to be part of the Nigerian national team, she is also honored to wear the Globetrotter uniform, because it means she is a part of history. Only a select few females get the opportunity to play for the team, and she feels blessed to be part of that elite group. The 12th female player in the Globetrotters’ 88-year history, Sweet J joins current female stars TNT Maddox and T-Time Brawner.
Sweet J has also played professionally in Poland and Italy.
Out of Texas State University, Sweet J was the fifth player in the school’s history to record over 1500 points and 600 rebounds. She was named Southland Conference Player of the Year and Student Athlete of the Year in 2008, when she averaged 18.7 ppg and led the school to its first postseason win in program history in the Women's NIT, scoring the game-winning shot. Showcasing her shooting range, she made a school-record 82 three-pointers her senior year and finished third in the 2008 College 3-Point Championship.
Sweet J is unique in many ways, and now being a female player on the Harlem Globetrotters can be added to that list. The uniqueness is what she considers the best part about being a female Globetrotter. She hopes it will show other young girls that anything is possible with faith, hard work and dedication. She is proud to be part of an organization that provides family entertainment and a positive influence to youths.