Balling Out With 31 Points, Is Alissa Pilli the Next Big Thing?

Published 12/08/2023, 9:35 AM EST

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No. 11 Utah defeated Saint Joseph’s 74-48 on Thursday because of a strong fourth quarter led by Alissa Pili, who scored a career-high 31 points to reach 20 points or more for the fifth straight game. In the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, Pili grabbed control. She scored 65 points, leading a personal 14-2 run and making all five of her field goal tries. For Utah (8-1), she completed 12 of 17 from the field and pulled down seven rebounds.

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Pili narrowly missed matching her career best of 33 points, which she had scored during the previous season’s NCAA Tournament. Of Utah’s first 27 points, Kennady McQueen scored 11 of them before failing to score again. Emma Boslet’s basket gave Saint Joseph’s 11 points after they had been restricted to six in the first quarter. But it was Pili’s performance that stole the show.

Where does Alissa Pili hail from?

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Pili was born in Anchorage, Alaska, to Billy and Heather Pili. She is of Samoan and Alaska Native ancestry. Her older brother, Brandon, played football as a defensive lineman at USC. Pili was the only girl in her league, and she played as a lineman in football from third to eighth grade.

She began playing organized basketball at the age of eight. Pili attended Anchorage’s Dimond High School, where she was a gifted athlete. She assisted her team in finishing second in the Class 4A state tournament during her first year. Pili was the Class 4A scoring record holder, and she was the driving force behind Dimond’s two state titles.

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Pili was also the three-time Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year. She won 13 state championships in all sports at Dimond, including two in discus, four in volleyball, and four in shot put. She joined Missy Franklin as the only two-time winner of the award when she was voted MaxPreps Female High School Athlete of the Year in her last two years of high school. ESPN rated her as a five-star prospect, and she committed to playing basketball for USC in college.

The jewel in Utah basketball

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Pili started as the starting forward for USC in her first year of play. On February 23, 2020, she led her team to a 66-60 victory over Washington State with a career-high 32 points and 12 rebounds. As a freshman, Pili averaged 16.3 points and 8 rebounds per game, earning her the title of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and a spot on the All-Pac-12 Team.

She missed the first 10 games of her sophomore season because of an ankle ailment. With an average of 11 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore, Pili was named an honorable mention for the Pac-12. She had a junior-season average of 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game when she signed up for the transfer portal.

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Alissa Pili is demonstrating her best display of athletics in the current NCAA season with the limited time she is allowed to play, which presents a very promising result for the WNBA in the near future.

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Written by:

Nima Murugan

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“Basketball isn’t an act of jumping jacks, it’s a sport mirroring life through assists and rebounds”. Before becoming an NBA writer at EssentiallySports, I was drawn to the world of basketball when 'The Chosen One' first started locking horns with 'His Airness' over the GOAT debate. Some discourses shape your imagination and rightly so.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo

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