Koranga hungry for more

Published 8:56 am Tuesday, November 1, 2022

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Troy Trojans basketball star Felmas Koranga is one of the top returning seniors in the country and despite all she’s achieved, the Kenyan native is hungry for much more.

Coming into the 2022-2023 season, Koranga earned preseason All-Sun Belt honors and was also voted the leagues Preseason Player of the Year. She’s already earned All-Sun Belt honors twice at Troy, along with the 2020-2021 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year Award.

Before coming to Troy, Koranga was a JUCO All-American and the WBCA JUCO Player of the Year at Tyler Junior College in Texas. After her stellar JUCO career, Koranga became the first Kenyan-born women’s basketball player to sign a Division I scholarship when she came to Troy. Despite all of the accolades, the always-humble Koranga gives the credit to her coaches and teammates.

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“Those are the things I don’t really think about, so when they happen it surprises me and it definitely amps me up,” Koranga said with a smile. “They remind me what I’m surrounded by, with great teammates and great coaches. Obviously, without them you cannot get any individual accolades because it’s a team sport.”

Koranga is also a member of the Kenyan National Team and helped Kenya win the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket Zone 5 Championship in 2021. While Koranga loves that she’s able to represent both her home country and her university, she wants to represent much more.

“It’s not only about representing Kenya but representing the bigger community. Representing Troy University as a brand ambassador, representing the JUCO that I came from and representing anyone that thinks they can’t do something or something seems impossible to them,” she said. “When they look at me they, and where I come from, they can remember that they can do it. You can do anything.”

Last season, the 6-foot-1-inch forward averaged 12.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. Her 354 rebounds set the Troy Division I season record and she led the entire conference in rebounds. She also ranked in the Top 10 in the conference in points, blocks and field goal percentage

Despite all of her successes, Koranga believes she still has plenty left to prove. Troy coach Chanda Rigby pointed to Koranga’s maturity as being as impressive as her play on the court.

“She means a lot (to the team), not only because of how talented she is but also how mature she is,” Rigby emphasized. “She understands about taking care of her body, understands about sacrifice and she understands that it’s not going to happen if she puts ‘me’ first.

“Those things are so valuable to a basketball team. You would think it’s hard to get better than she’s already been but she says she’s taken those last two losses last year and she will be better because of that and I’m definitely ready for that.”

One of the things Koranga has emphasized on improving over the offseason has been her outside game.

“I know a lot of people know what I can do inside and they will try to stop that,” Koranga continued. “So, if I add the outside play it will really help my game.”

Koranga’s impact has not only been felt on the court but also in recruiting as Troy’s women’s basketball program is coming an international hotspot. A friend of Koranga from Kenya, Madina Okot, has been recruited to Troy and is expected to join the team next season. Additionally, Troy signed JUCO transfer Jamila “Zama” Nansikombi-Gunter, who originally hails from Kampala, Uganda, this season. Koranga and Nansikombi-Gunter played against each other as members of their respective national teams and Koranga had a big impact on Nansikombi-Gunter’s decision to come Troy from Moberly Community College.

“We talked and she said how she was treated well and everything was nice here and it all felt like home,” Nansikombi-Gunter said of speaking with Koranga about Troy. “That was very important to me being a million miles away from home. Finding family here and feeling at home is very important mentally.”

As preseason camp got underway in October, Koranga has been impressed with her new and returning teammates.

“It’s been great so far, everyone is pushing hard and is working out hard,” she said. “Everything is intentional. Everything we do is intentional, so it’s good to see everyone working so hard.”

All of the hard work is geared to a very simple yet lofty goal for Koranga and for the Trojans.

“I will say just one thing: win a championship,” Koranga flatly said of her goals in 2022-2023.

While Koranga’s sights are currently set solely on championship glory at Troy, she also has professional goals for the future.

“Of course, I think about going pro, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the WNBA or in Europe to me,” Koranga said when asked about playing professionally. “I’m just looking forward to being able have that experience, wherever I can, and it will be something I can brag about to my mother, my father and my brother.”

The Trojans start the season on Nov. 7 at Samford.