Pendande’s Potential in First Season at the U

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University of Utah Utes Women’s Basketball Team Forward Lola Pendande (12) scores from a free throw during an NCAA Basketball match vs. the South Dakota Coyotes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Writer

 

This article was originally published in print on March 3, 2020.

Lola Pendande, a freshman on the Utah women’s basketball team, is showing her worth in her first season with the Utes. Pendande is from Almeria, Spain. She grew up running track but later transitioned to basketball.

“I did track until I was 11,” Pendande said. “My cousin told me to start [playing basketball] because I was too tall to be running.” 

Pendande is very passionate about her interests. She has a lot of natural talent and skill, especially for someone so young.

“She’s kind of a raw talent right now. She’s going to continue to improve,” said head coach Lynne Roberts. “Just strength, athleticism. She brings a great kind of passion for the game, she’s fun to be around. She’s got a lot of personality, a great rebounder. She’s brought a lot.”

Standing at 6-foot-4, she’s one of the tallest players on the team. With that height comes strength and toughness in the paint, and she’s shown that, by averaging 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. She’s also shooting 56.7% from the floor.

“It takes a lot of work and sacrifices,” Pendande said. “I lost a lot of friends, and now coming here, in this state, and being so far from home, I don’t have the same old friends. I have the ones that grew up with me, they’re like sisters and brothers to me, but I lost a lot of them too.”

It’s only been a short time for Pendande in Utah, but she is already loving it. 

University of Utah Utes Women’s Basketball Team Forward Lola Pendande (12) attempts to score during an NCAA Basketball match vs. the South Dakota Coyotes at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

“I love the family atmosphere, and I really wanted to play for Coach Rob. I believe in this program and I loved seeing a coach that believed in me.” 

Coach Roberts knows what Pendande can bring to the team going forward for the Utes. She has a lot of unique skills that will translate well as she gets older and improves as a player.

“She is our most athletic post player,” Roberts said. “She’s lefty, which adds to it. She’s just big and strong and a lefty, athletic post player, we don’t have anyone else like that. She’s brought a lot of physicality to our team, she’s our best low post scorer. We rely on it a lot.”

While she already adds all of that to the team, it’s no secret she’s full of potential. This is not the Pendande we will see in a few years when she’s fully fleshed out her skillset.

“Her ceiling is so high. How good she gets is determined by how much she works,” Roberts said. “But I think she can develop an outside game, I think she can be more consistent on the inside. Defensively get better, I mean, there’s every aspect of her game she can improve on, and she knows that. We’re going to work with her, so I think the sky’s the limit as long as she matches that work ethic with her potential.”

Pendande has a long basketball career ahead of her, but she knows that’s not the only thing she wants to do with her life.

“I want to play pro at the highest level. And if not, if that doesn’t work out, I’d like to be a lawyer,” she said.

“I think the thing that’s cool about Lola is that she’s passionate about social justice. She wants to be a lawyer,” Roberts said. “You can have an educated conversation with her about the political climate, the world. She’s not just here to get to play basketball, she’s here to get a degree and do something with her life other than basketball. She’ll play professionally, but after that, she has big dreams of doing some really cool work for society.”

Pendande is focused on making the world a better place for herself and for others. She loves to play basketball, but she also knows she can make a big impact on others just by being a good person.

“Being the best person I can be, which I am trying to do right now. Knowing how to treat every kind of person, people different than me. Help everyone as much as I can, and bring more life to women’s basketball,” she said.

Pendande has surely made an impact for the Utes, both on and off the court. She has a lot more to bring to the table, and surely will realize more of her potential in the years to come. 

“It’s just a journey,” she said. “I have good and bad moments, so it’s just going through the days.”

After a strong freshman season, there will be more good moments to come from Pendande.

 

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