Brian Nance ’16, Contributing Writer
Shay Ajayi ’16 is the six foot five inch, 195 pound forward you have probably noticed while making your way across campus. A Brooklyn native, Ajayi attended Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Crown Heights which is a forty-five minute public transportation trip from his home in Clinton Hills. The sophomore forward has been playing tremendously well for the Bantams since he first donned the blue and gold last year. His stat sheet is one that proves that he is and will continue to be a key player for Trinity as they battle in the NESCAC for years to come.
The Brooklyn native played numerous sports while growing up, some of which included soccer and football. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that Ajayi’s passion for basketball grew. When asked how he started playing basketball, Shay said, “I began playing basketball because of my brother. He was a great influence on my interest in basketball during my early teenage years.” A couple years later, when Ajayi was a freshman in high school, he tried out for his school’s varsity basketball team and made it, proving that he found his niche.
Ajayi was always one of the “tall guys” in his adolescence while towering over opposing players and teammates when playing ball in his early days. Ajayi says he grew up striving to mimic Dwight Howard’s playing style while aspiring to incorporate key attributes of strength, explosiveness, and jumping to create the physical prowess that a forceful big man embodies.
Along with playing basketball for his prep school’s team, Ajayi also played for a very competitive AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball team. When speaking about his experience and how AAU basketball helped him prepare for the college level, Ajayi had this to say: “It definitely helped me prepare for the collegiate level to a certain degree. However, I must point out that the players at the collegiate level are incredibly strong, so it was very hard adjusting due to the fact that I was now going against players ranging from ages eighteen to even twenty-six.”
The 2012-2013 season was an impressive rookie season for Ajayi as he led Trinity in various categories including field-goal percentage, blocked shots, rebounding, and three-point field goal percentage. He was also second in scoring and third in free throws for his team and even earned his name in the leaderboards for the NESCAC as he was 8th in field goal percentage and 14th in rebounding in the league. Despite having such a breakout season, Ajayi said he placed his primary focus this offseason on getting better at ball handling and shooting as he strived to add variety to his game.
Ajayi has continued his success this season as he leads the Bantams in total points. When asked about his outlook on this season he said, “This season I feel very confident in my team. We have the talent and ability to go far in the NCAA playoffs. At the moment we have a better record than the past few years, so to say the least I feel very confident that we will compete for this year and the next few years.”