En’Dya Buford finished her junior year averaging 26.3 points, 8.4 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 5.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The guard led the Olive Branch Conquistadors to claim the Class 5A State Tournament where she also won the MVP Award. Among her many accomplishments is being named a Gatorade Player of the Year. This national initiative chooses a male and female representative from each state based on athletic excellence, academic achievement, and exemplary character. Recipients of the Gatorade Player of the Year award are also given the opportunity to award a youth sports organization of their choice a $1,000 grant in collaboration with Gatorade Play It Forward. As a former kid at MAM Olivet, En’Dya saw this as the perfect opportunity to give back to the “place where it all started.”
We had the opportunity to catch up with En’Dya at MAM Olivet.
Q: How did you feel when you found out you were named a Gatorade Player of the Year?
En’Dya: “It was a blessing. I’m thankful. I received this award because I was doing well on the court and in the classroom. I deserved it.”
Q: Why did you choose MAM as the recipient of the Gatorade Play It Forward grant?
En’Dya: “I chose MAM because this is where it all started. It’s where I started playing organized basketball. I wanted to pay them back for all they did for me. I can’t forget where I came from.”
Q: Who impacted you the most at MAM?
En’Dya: “Coach Chad, Coach Jose, and Coach Damion. I use to always get into it with boys because I would beat them, and they would get mad. Coach Jose would always tell me, ‘Don’t let them get in your head. Just keep doing what you’re doing.’ Coach Damion plays too much. He always told me to laugh it out.”
Q: What motivates you to work hard in school?
En’Dya: “My high school coach. He always tells me to keep going. He reminds me that it doesn’t stop here, and that I have to keep looking forward.”
Q: What is your favorite subject in school?
En’Dya: “Basketball (laughs)….English.”
Q: What are your plans after high school?
En’Dya: “I committed to play basketball at the University of Memphis where I plan to study Business. After college, I dream of playing basketball overseas. When I retire from my basketball career, I plan to own my own shoe store. I’ll carry everything – especially Kobe & Westbrook.”
Q: Who is your basketball inspiration?
En’Dya: “Maya Moore”
Q: What is one of your favorite memories at MAM?
En’Dya: “I remember one summer camp where we went on field trips and played pick-up basketball.”
Q: Any last words of advice?
En’Dya: “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Even though they say they aren’t looking at you, they really are, so keep working. Don’t stop! It’s going to pay off one day. Ladies, we can do anything men can do…probably better. I also want to say thank you to God first and then my family. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Thank you to MAM. I’ll never forget you all who helped me!”
En’Dya will spend her summer playing on Woods Elite AAU team in Conway, Arkansas.
MAM greatly appreciates her generosity and support and wishes her the best of luck in her future!