Sports

Books Before [B]Ball

Aliyah Boston (l) and Chris McDonald (UVI Voice, reporter pose during break @Pardise Jam Tournament. (photo credit- file)

by Christopher McDonald

STT– On November 30, UVI SGA President Christopher McDonald had the opportunity to interview Aliyah Boston, native Virgin Islander the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the 2019 Paradise Jam Reef Tournament.

Aliyah Boston, native Virgin Islander the Most Valuable Player (MVP), 2019 Paradise Jam Reef Tournament.

Aliyah spoke about her journey at the University of South Carolina (USC) as well as her experience at Paradise Jam. She gave this advice to those pursuing a career in basketball: “Keep working and have God as your focus” and “Books Before Ball.”

Aliyah left the Virgin Islands, and her immediate family, at the age of 12 to live in Boston, Mass., with her aunt. She stated, “It was a tough one because everyone I grew up with was living in the Virgin Islands.” Aliyah attended Worcester Academy, an exclusive, private boarding school in Mass. She played basketball there and was scouted by the USA Basketball group. Aliyah competed in numerous competitions while in high school and won gold medals on the American Under 16, Under 17 and Under 19 teams.

Within the last few months, Aliyah has won the Freshman player of the week@South Carolina several times and is nominated for two awards from the prestigious Hoophall, Basketball Hall of Fame, Best College Players of the Year. This year’s winners will be presented by the Hall of Famers at The College Basketball Awards live on ESPN2 from Los Angeles on April 10th.

She is also slated to win The 2019-20 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award which will be presented at the 2020 NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans, along with the Tamika Catchings Award honoring the women’s freshman player of the year.

Alijah Boston flashes her beautiful smile. (Photo credit: TheState, Tracy Glantz)
photo credit (South Carolina Women’s Basketball roster, 2019-2020).           

Aliyah’s accomplishments are phenomenal and include the following:

High School

  • Naismith All-America Second Team (2019)
  • WBCA All-America Second Team (2019)
  • McDonald’s All-America (2019)
  • SLAM All-America (2019)
  • USA Today Massachusetts Player of the Year (2019)
  • Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year (2017, 2018, 2019)
photo credit-FB South Carolina Women’s Basketball page)
  • International (USA Basketball)

  • Gold Medals: 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, 2018 Youth Olympic Games, 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
  • Honors: 2018 FIBA U17 All-Star Five (all-tournament), 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship MVP.
  • Tournament Titles: 2018 Latvia U17 International Invitational, 2018 Spokane Hoopfest (3×3), 2018 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championship.
  • Member of the 2019 USA U19 World Cup Team that finished with a 7-0 record and captured the gold medal with a 74-70 overtime victory over Australia in Bangkok, Thailand; started all seven games and averaged 8.4 ppg. and 6.1 rpg.
  • Selected as one of six USA Basketball participants in the 2019 NCAA Next Generation at the NCAA Final Four in Tampa, Florida.
  • Member of the 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Team that earned gold with a 7-0 slate at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games 3×3 competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina; averaged team-highs of 6.4 ppg. and 8.0 rpg. (The USA team averaged 20.1 ppg. and 17.3 rpg.).
  • Member of the 2018 USA U17 World Cup Team that captured gold with a perfect 7-0 record in Minsk, Belarus; started all seven games and averaged USA team-highs 11.3 ppg. and 7.1 rpg. Among the tournament’s 16-team field, ranked first for field goal percentage (.654), tied for sixth for blocked shots (1.29 bpg.), was 11th for rebounding and 19th for scoring.
  • Aided the USA U17 team to a three-game sweep of Canada, China and Latvia in a pre-U17 World Cup exhibition tournament in Leipaja, Latvia, and was named to the all-tournament team
  • Captured the 2018 Spokane Hoopfest, a 3×3 tournament, open division championship, with her 2018 Youth Olympic Games teammates.
  • Teamed up with Samantha Brunelle, Paige Bueckers and Hailey Van Lith to capture the 2018 USA Basketball 3×3 U18 National Championship, and the four went on to claim gold at the Youth Olympic Games.
  • Helped the USA capture a gold medal and a perfect 5-0 record at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina; started in all five games and averaged team-highs of 11.8 ppg. and 8.6 rpg.
  • One of 16 finalists for the 2016 USA U17 World Cup Team.
photo credit-FB South Carolina Women’s Basketball page)
  • High School
  • Ranked No. 3 recruit in the Class of 2019 and the top post player in the class
  • Earned consensus All-America selection after her senior season (2018-19), during which she averaged 17.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.2 blocks
  • Captured Massachusetts Player of the Year honors from Gatorade (2017, 2018, 2019) and USA Today (2019)
  • Played in the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic (2019)
  • Named NEPSAC Class A Player of the Year (2018, 2019) and a NEPSAC Class A All-Star in 2017
  • Helped Worcester Academy to 24-1 record and second-straight New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Class A championship in 2018-19
  • Averaged 21.2 points, 14.0 rebounds and 6.2 blocks as a junior (2017-18) after starting and recording a double-double in all 22 games her sophomore season (2016-17)
  • Has earned four gold medals with USA Basketball and was named MVP of the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Cup after leading team with 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game

Boston’s journey to the University of South Carolina (USC) was “great” and she is excited to be apart of the college women’s basketball program. Her position as power forward requires blocks, rebounding, “a lot of physicalities.”

(Photo credit USA basketball.com/Red Line Editorial)

During the much-publicized 2019 Paradise Jam Reef Tournament Boston received special recognition. She stated, “Playing this last game had a [sense of a] family environment. I am really glad that I was able to play here.”

Many Virgin Islanders, including her relatives from off-island, came to support and cheer for their home-town favorite! According to the Associated Press, Boston’s family also planned a combination homecoming, holiday gathering for the St. Thomian.

Many Virgin Islanders including her relatives from off-island, came to support and cheer for their home-town favorite!

Boston shared advice for students pursuing basketball which included, “Keep Working and have God as your focus” and “Books before [B]Ball.”

photo credit: USA basketball.com

USC tutors, academic advisors, and study hall(s) help Boston stay focused. She said that USC head coach, Dawn Staley, emphasizes to her players to sit in the second row of class and get to know their professors.

USC head coach, Dawn Staley, emphasizes to her players to sit in the second row of class and get to know their professors.

Overall, Boston’s basketball skills and academic record have given her many opportunities and accolades. According to basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli, Boston has accelerated skills in the game’s fundamentals, concepts and intangibles.

photo credit-FB South Carolina Women’s Basketball page)

According to basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli, Boston has accelerated skills in the game’s fundamentals, concepts and intangibles.

Antonelli added, “She’s mature beyond her years…and highly competitive.  She wants to win. I love watching her.”

UVI Voice and the USVI community agrees. Look out for Aliyah Boston!

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