How good has Marguerite Effa's month of January been? The Wolf Pack basketball player scored more points this month (130) than she did during her four seasons at USC combined (101 points in 62 minutes). Effa, a graduate transfer into Nevada this offseason, began the year as a reserve. But the fifth-year senior, who redshirted with the Trojans last season, has forced her way into the Wolf Pack's starting rotation. The 6-foot-3 post player got her first start Dec. 28 and has stuck in the starting lineup every since. In her last eight games, Effa is averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game while shooting 58.4 percent from the field (52-of-89). Her career-best game came Jan. 8 against San Jose State when Effa tallied 31 points and 15 rebounds on 15-of-21 shooting.
For Effa's stellar recent play this month, she is Nevada Sports Net's Wolf Pack Athlete of the Month for January, an honor presented in partnership with Champion Chevrolet. You can watch our full interview with Effa below, or check out our Q&A for a portion of the conversation, which includes her immigrating from Cameroon to Los Angeles at age 11, why she decided to transfer to Nevada, her father competing in the Olympics and remembering Kobe Bryant, her basketball idol who she once met.
Q&A with Marguerite Effa
On how her time at Nevada has been
Marguerite Effa: "It's been great actually. I love the people, I love the fans, I love my team and my coaches. They've been very supportive throughout this journey, and I'm looking forward to the rest of this journey."
On why she transferred to Nevada
ME: "First, the location wasn't too far from my home. I was able to go home and see my dad, my uncle, my family. I really fell in love with the coaches. They were great. Amanda (Levens') vision and how they could compete even though they were young, they had a lot of potential and I could really be a lot of help."
On why she's been playing so well lately
ME: "Just confidence and having the energy from my teammates and coaches believing in me. That has brought a lot of confidence. I've been able to work hard and learn from my mistakes in previous games and just get better every game."
On what it was like moving from Cameroon to L.A. at age 11
ME: "It was very tough. I actually came here by myself. I didn't know anybody. It was tough. But I met my dad at the airport, and it was fun. L.A. is definitely different than where I'm from. There was a lot going on. A lot of cars. A lot of tall buildings. I was like, 'What's going on? What's going on?' I love L.A. still. At the end of the day, it was good moving away."
On why Kobe Bryant was her sports idol
ME: "Just his fight, just his mentality. I wanted to be like him so bad, going every day to practice super early, the competitive nature he had. I just loved it."
On what it was like to meet Bryant
ME: "It was great. It didn't feel like I was talking to a celebrity. It felt like I was talking to a normal person, an everyday person. He was great. He wasn't, 'Oh, my, God, I'm Kobe!'"
On why she wants to swim with sharks
ME: "I don't know. I just want to have something on my bucket list, so I want to do it. One of them was to talk to Kobe, and I did that, so hopefully I get to swim with sharks really soon. In a cage."
On hoping to travel to Brazil, Mexico, China, Texas and Mississippi
ME: "I want to go everywhere. I want to explore and learn about different cultures, so I can expand my horizon about different things."
On potentially being able to play professionally overseas
ME: "I can't wait. The competition of it, I love it. When we went to Italy for a trip back at SC, I got to play with the competition and it was great. I'm looking forward to that, and trying different foods, seeing new people, meeting new people, and that should be fun."
On what she has liked about living in Reno
ME: "The people. The people are very nice and very supportive of us, which is very nice. I'm still getting used to the weather. It's not L.A. whether, but I like it. It's still good."
On her father competing in the Olympics in judo and whether she tried the sport
ME: "I like it, but I didn't have the opportunity to actually compete or try it out. I've gone to practice with him and see him do his thing. I wanted to do it, but I didn't have enough time to learn it and do it."
On how the reality of living in America matched up with her expectations
ME: "I watched movies about Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive and all these big houses and everybody is famous. It was that, but not all that. There's another side of L.A. that you don't see in downtown with the homeless culture. That kind of shocked me a little bit."
On wanting to open a non-profit organization after college
ME: "I would like to help kids with disabilities and kind of build a shelter for them because when you're from another country and if your kid has a disability, they treat it almost like they're animals. I want to build a sanctuary for them so they can go and learn day-to-day skills and kind of feel normal. That's my dream."
Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.