Stevenson Ranch native Noah Bigirumwami always believed that he belonged playing basketball for a Division 1 program, but coming out of high school, he was seen as just another player.
Three years later, he’s playing against Division 1 programs like Indiana University, Notre Dame and DePaul, just to name a few.
Graduating from Village Christian Academy in the spring of 2015, a short 25-to-35-minute drive to Sun Valley, Bigirumwami was part of the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 AA Championship team in his senior year that featured future Division 1 talents Bennie Boatwright Jr. (USC) and Clifton Powell Jr. (University of California, Santa Barbara).
“It was definitely one of the funnest things and an experience that I will never forget,” Bigirumwami said. “Creating a brotherhood with all those guys was good for me and my basketball potential. It was a struggle because I wasn’t at their level yet, but just playing with them every day at practice and just battling against them got me to where I am today.”
Holding no offers from any college at any level, Bigirumwami decided to train with SCV-based trainer and professional basketball player Taylor Statham. He also opted to take a prep year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina in order to attract some attention and possibly garner some college scholarships.
“It was a blessing because we had three or four classes so it wasn’t as rigorous as a college schedule so we really got to spend time in the gym every single day,” Bigirumwami said. “That’s why I got to elevate my game and improve a lot, not to mention the 30 or 40 pounds I gained as well as my relationship with God got a lot stronger.”
Bigirumwami’s decision paid off as he attracted the eye of NAIA school Vanguard University, which offered him a partial scholarship. Bigirumwami spent a year at Vanguard, but didn’t get the playing opportunities he wanted.
Talking it over with coaches and his family, Bigirumwami opted to enroll at San Bernardino Valley College on a full scholarship to develop his game at the JUCO level and hopefully make the move to a Division 1 program.
Playing one year at SBVC under head coach Quincy Brewer, Bigirumwami was able to take his game to newer heights and picked up his first Division 1 in offer in August from Mississippi Valley State and accepted it.
At SBVC Bigirumwami averaged 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 28 games played.
“I developed a lot of toughness thanks to coach Brewer,” Bigirumwami said. “He and his coaching staff always pushed me and believed in me, helping me with my confidence and things like that. It was really a big jump from Vanguard to SBVC, but every day they would push me to my limit and I got a lot of out it.”
After committing to play at Mississippi Valley State, Bigirumwami continued to play in tournaments and showcases. His drastic development attracted more Division 1 attention, this time from Chicago State. He then chose to decommit from MVS and commit to Chicago State.
“It was all last-minute. A miracle, for sure,” Bigirumwami said. “I believed that I was a D-1 player and I believed in God and in myself that I was going to get here.”
Currently in his first season playing at Chicago State, Bigirumwami has averaged 7.5 minutes per game in 13 appearances, but is confident that he will develop into the player that he always knew he could and would be.
“The intensity is on a whole other level,” Bigirumwami said. “The level of conditioning and style of play is unrivaled at any other level.
“Just praying and believing that I’m going to play professional basketball. That’s what’s in my future.”