Charisma Osborne ready for new journey at UCLA

MARIETTA, GA - MARCH 25: Charisma Osborne warms up before the 2019 Powerade Jam Fest on March 25, 2019 in Marietta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Powerade)
MARIETTA, GA - MARCH 25: Charisma Osborne warms up before the 2019 Powerade Jam Fest on March 25, 2019 in Marietta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Powerade) /

The Windward High School star is preparing for the next level of basketball

The UCLA Bruins are going to have a bit of a crowded backcourt next season. Senior point guard and incumbent starter Japreece Dean was granted another year of eligibility. Last season’s talented freshmen Ahlana Smith and Lindsay Corsaro will be another year older and wiser. And Baylor transfer Natalie Chou will finally be eligible to play.

But there’s an incoming freshman who might push the returning guards for playing time as the season progresses; Charisma Osborne.

Osborne hails from Windward High School where she led the Wildcats to three straight California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Open Division championships. She played under former Stanford and WNBA star Vanessa Nygaard, who is a disciple of the legendary Tara VanDerveer.

This past season was a little bit different for Osborne, she spent her senior year pretty much learning a new position. She’s a natural shooting guard with a good feel for scoring the basketball, but Nygaard asked her to make a transition to point guard.

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It wasn’t all that smooth in the beginning, but as the season went on, Osborne felt more comfortable in the role.

“At first it was kind of hard, I wasn’t really used to it,” Osborne told High Post Hoops. “But now I’m getting used to it, getting my teammates involved and doing what I do.”

UCLA head coach Cori Close had been recruiting Osborne for a while before she committed to the Bruins. She always loved Osborne’s penchant for scoring, but she was very impressed by the way Osborne handled the transition to point guard this past season.

It’s tough for a player to essentially learn a new position this late in their high school career, but Close believes this will help Osborne tremendously as the college season approaches.

“I think she’s a combo guard, and I think she’s more comfortable off the ball, but I am so appreciative of the job that Vanessa [Nygaard] has done with her. I think it’s just adding to her versatility,” Close told High Post Hoops. “I don’t think it is maybe her first choice, but I think all it has done is helped her game. It’s forced her to be more of a leader. It’s forced her to see the game more globally in terms of being responsible for the entire team, not just her getting her points.”

While being able to play point guard makes Osborne that much more dangerous, her bread and butter is her ability to put the ball in the basket, particularly with her shooting, and her defensive prowess on the wing.

Charisma Osborne (UCLA) and defending is Jordan Horston (Tennessee) (photo courtesy of McDonald’s)
Charisma Osborne (UCLA) and defending is Jordan Horston (Tennessee) (photo courtesy of McDonald’s) /

UCLA is a team that has struggled in recent years from the three-point line, especially since Kari Korver graduated. As a team, the Bruins shot 30.6 percent from three-point range last season with Dean being their top shooter at 35.2 percent.

Osborne is a great shooter from distance who will certainly help in that regard. She’s already looking forward to the different ways she’ll be able to fit in with the Bruins.

“Definitely I think I can help with shooting, especially three-point shooting,” Osborne said. “But also I think that I play good on-ball defense so I think I help a lot with that. And just to do whatever I can whether that’s on the court, off the court, cheering for my teammates, whatever.”

Osborne’s shooting has always been one of her strong suits. When she first started playing high school basketball, shooting from the outside was pretty much all she was able to do. But over the years, under Nygaard’s tutelage, she’s added a new dimension to her game each season.

She blossomed and expanded her repertoire to make herself a really complete, all-around player. But the one aspect of her game that Nygaard believes will stand out the most, is her defensive ability on ball.

“She was really just a shooter for us, a great shooter. But she’s really diversified her game offensively where she can attack the basket, she’s got a mid-range game, she finishes well at the rim, she’s continued to add to her game,” Nygaard told High Post Hoops. “She’s become a much better ball-handler and passer. She’s also become a much better defensive player, she’s really a defensive stopper. As much as I believe in her as an offensive player, I believe in her more as a defensive player in that she can really guard anybody.”

It was quite the senior sendoff for Osborne. Although Windward’s hopes at a third straight CA state championship were dashed by rival Sierra Canyon, the Wildcats did win a third straight CIF Southern Section Open Division championship.

Osborne was also named a McDonald’s All-American and was selected to play in the Jordan Brand Classic back in April. It was the culmination of a stellar four years of high school basketball, to be selected for the nation’s highest honors.

“It’s definitely an amazing experience and I feel very blessed to have this opportunity,” Osborne said. “I know it is fun playing around all these talented girls and a lot of great athletes. Both NBA and WNBA players have done this, so it means a lot to do this journey as well.”

Now she’ll begin a new journey, with new teammates and new coaches in a new environment. Although she will be arriving with all of these accolades, none of that really matters anymore, according to Close. She believes that Osborne’s motor and willingness to learn and be better is what will factor into how well she does at UCLA.

“I couldn’t care less about who’s a McDonalds All-American, I couldn’t care less about if you played Team USA, I couldn’t care less,” Close said. “I care about gold medal habits, I care about championship habits. If she chooses to have those kinds of habits, work ethic, sacrifice for the team, the sky’s the limit for her.”

Nygaard agrees that Osborne’s work ethic is going to be one of the biggest attributes that she can bring to the Bruins. That was further reinforced this past season with how receptive Osborne was to learning a new position.

“This year, she was challenged to play a new role for us which I think will only be good for her to grow as a player,” Nygaard said. “She works really hard, she has a good motor, she has discipline, and she’s a great student. I think she’s going to do really well at UCLA.”

As for Osborne herself, although she’s going to be a freshman on a team with plenty of older players, she believes that the leadership skills she developed in high school will be able to translate to the college level.

“I think I’m a leader on the court,” Osborne said. “I try to get everyone involved with rebounding, playing defense, and then making my shots.”

It remains to be seen how much playing time Osborne actually gets this season. She said she could see herself playing alongside Dean at times in the backcourt, but what is clear is that the Bruins are getting a talented player who will eventually make her mark on the court.

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