OAKLAND -- When Bishop O'Dowd High girls basketball star Oderah Chidom started her high school career, she was far from the limelight of basketball success.
"As a freshman, I accepted the role as water girl (for the varsity team)," Chidom said. "I was the last (off the bench)."
Her senior season was a testimony to what hard work can do. The 6-foot-4 McDonald's All-American was a matchup nightmare from her small forward position -- she averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals per game as O'Dowd marched through a tough schedule to win the California Interscholastic Federation Open Division state championship.
For her accomplishments, Chidom has been named the Bay Area News Group East Bay Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Chidom improved substantially to start as a sophomore, but her game took another big step up in a key component this season.
"My confidence, the mental aspect of the game, being able to lead my teammates more," she said.
O'Dowd coach Malik McCord agreed about Chidom's growth in confidence.
"Her Achilles' heel used to be that she would be too hard on herself," McCord said, adding Chidom's confidence grew after she played for the USA Women's Under-17 World Championship team last summer. "She was a different person. It just let out a confidence that she was lacking somewhat in herself."
The Duke-bound Chidom learned from that experience. "Just being around girls that had all the confidence in the world, seeing how they were able to stay at a constant mental rate the whole time," she said.
Chidom's presence was felt in the Northern California regional playoffs this season, where she averaged 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game. She had 17 points and 12 rebounds in the Dragons' 58-50 win over St. Mary's-Stockton in the Northern California Open Division regional final. Hampered by foul trouble in the state championship game, she helped a Dragons surge in the fourth quarter with six of her nine points, and she grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots in the win over Windward-Los Angeles.
Chidom has seen progression in applying her skills.
"I worked my butt off in the gym," she said. "The skill set was always there. I was finally able to apply it."
McCord pointed to her midrange jumper, rebounding and on-ball defense as improving this season.
"We worked on that a lot," said McCord, referring to her on-ball defense. "She would be guarding guards."
Chidom knows something about challenges.