Bendu Yeaney to enter WNBA Draft after final season at Oregon State

Bendu Yeaney is approaching another career milestone with the Oregon State Beavers.
Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 7:42 AM PST
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CORVALLIS, Ore. (KPTV) - She starred on the basketball court at Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy with the class of 2017, and now Bendu Yeaney is approaching another career milestone with the Oregon State Beavers.

“Honestly, I think the journey was how it was supposed to be,” Yeaney said.

After five years away, Yeaney is back home in the Beaver State.

“Every time I put on the jersey it’s so crazy. My dad actually graduated from here, so it was literally a surprise to him when I came here, but it’s just fun to put on the orange and black. It’s not something I really thought about when I was 18 years old, but now being here it’s a dream come true,” she said.

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Yeaney’s mother and father immigrated from Liberia, and soccer was the family sport, but hoops is where she has left her mark. From Bloomington, Indiana, to Tucson, Arizona, where she played in the class National Title game with the Wildcats in 2021, Yeaney’s Division I path has collected a 1,000-point career with 200 steals on the horizon.

“Two-hundred steals. That’s just because everybody defines me as a defensive player, and I love defense and I think that sets the tone on the offensive end when you can get a stop on the defensive side,” Yeaney said.

A blown Achilles during March Madness in 2019 with the Hoosiers against the Oregon Ducks to the bonus pandemic year of eligibility, the 24-year-old has seen a lot in and out of the game, and she brings that sage guard wisdom to her younger teammates at OSU.

“I tell them they are my children. It’s crazy to me because the freshman here are the same age as one of my nephews so I am like, ‘that’s wild to me right now!’” she said. “I am just trying to help them as much as possible but I also, I am kind of the mom. They crack jokes and all this stuff, and they are hyper sometimes and I am like, ‘alright you guys, chill it out.’”

After this chill final season in Corvallis, Yeaney - who already has a degree in hand - will put her name in the WNBA Draft and explore her options of playing overseas. It’s what her late big brother, Jonathan, would have encouraged her to do.

“He was a funny guy. He never wanted to have any confrontation, so it is kind of sad that somebody like that loses their life over nothing, but he is always here with me,” she said.

Jonathan Dunbar, 39, the middle brother of Yeaney’s 12 siblings, was shot and killed while walking to his car from a Portland nightclub on Oct. 7. The suspect has not been found.

“I know he is here with me when I play games. I have little signs that happen here and there, like, ‘that’s my brother.’ It’s just something that we are going to have to live with, but I just know he is always going to be here with me no matter what, he is going to be my biggest fan,” Yeaney said.

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Jonathan is always with her, and so is the game she loves the most.

“Honestly, if I didn’t have basketball through all of this, I don’t think I would be the person I am. I think basketball shaped me to be the Bendu I am today.”