Troy Athens grad, Russell, is now part of women’s basketball roster at Oakland University

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published January 28, 2015

 Troy Athens graduate Sinclair Russell is now part of Oakland University’s women’s basketball roster.

Troy Athens graduate Sinclair Russell is now part of Oakland University’s women’s basketball roster.

Photo courtesy of Oakland University athletics


A basketball player who averages 21 points per game as a junior and 19.1 as a senior, along with showing an ability to rebound, block shots and steal, is likely to end up on an NCAA Division I roster somewhere.

And that is exactly what happened for Troy Athens graduate Sinclair Russell, who is currently in her redshirt sophomore season with Oakland University.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Russell, who missed last season due to an injury. “Classes are great; my team is great. Overall good experience, so far. I’ve wanted to be a college athlete. I worked hard for it. It’s good to be here.”

“I’m really impressed with how much she’s improved, not just on the floor, but off the floor,” said Oakland’s women’s coach Jeff Tungate. “She’s extremely coachable. She’s really grown up a lot over the past year and a half. She’s getting what she deserves right now, and that’s success. I’m really happy for her. It’s amazing to see the progress she’s made. She’s got that mentality it takes to win. She’s got great leadership skills. I think she’s one of our future leaders.”

Given that her dad, Frederick, played college basketball, and some relatives, Campy, Frank and Walker Russell, played in the NBA, it may not be a big surprise that Sinclair Russell has made it as far as she has.

“My dad started coaching me when I was about 3,” said Russell, who led Oakland County in scoring and blocked shots as a junior. “It’s like a family thing. We have fun together. It’s just what we do.”

Perhaps the most exciting experience a college basketball player can have is to be part of the NCAA Tournament, and Russell would like to have her shot at doing just that before graduating.

“To get my degrees and have a winning season,” she said of her goals at Oakland. “Hopefully, go to the tournament. It’s probably every college athlete’s goal — go to the tournament. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That’s our goal, and we’re hoping to do it this year.”

Russell might appreciate an opportunity like that all the more after missing last season with an injury.

“You have to learn to never give up,” Russell said of lessons that may have come as a result of the injury. “It was hard after surgery, not being able to do anything basketball-related. The pain wasn’t that great, either. But if you love something enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get back to it.”

Russell may have also picked up some lessons from Tungate, as well as teammates.

“I’ve learned lessons while here,” said Russell, who acknowledged support she has received from family and coaches. “Coach Tungate — he’s not only a coach, but he’s like a mentor to us. He’s helped me become a better person and player. Teammates — a lot of people have graduated. I learned a lot from them. They’re like big sisters to me.”

Russell indicated that she would like to get into the field of human resources. The opportunity to pursue a degree to do that, while also being part of a college basketball team, is one that she doesn’t seem to have taken for granted.

“It’s a blessing to me,” Russell said. “They pay for school and you get to do something you love while also getting your degree so you can be successful in the future. I just love it.”