The wait is finally over.
After sitting out the 2014-15 campaign due to NCAA transfer rules, senior guard Aleesha Powell is ready to showcase her talents for the first time in a Seton Hall uniform.
“I can’t even explain how excited I am,” Powell said when asked about the upcoming season. “I love my teammates, but I’m tired of seeing their faces on the court every day. I can’t wait to just see another opponent that doesn’t know my game and how I like to play.”
Playing against her own teammates in practice is all Powell could do for the past year and change after transferring from Iona to play under her former coach Tony Bozzella once again.
The decision to transfer was difficult for Powell in-part due to the success she had while playing for the Gaels. As a junior she started in 29 games and ranked third on the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game, leading to Second-Team All-MAAC honors.
“When I decided that I wanted to leave it was perfect because he needed a player so it kind of went hand in hand.”
The close relationship between Powell and Bozzella dates back to when Bozzella says he first started recruiting her. The toughness and tenacity he saw out of the Philadelphia native impressed him then and assured him that Powell could handle the mental grind of sitting out a year.
“Everyone was like, ‘she’s small, she’s this, she’s that,’ but the more I saw her play I fell in love with her game,” Bozzella said. “What I love about Aleesha is that she can play with great players against some of the best players in the country and hold her own and still understand her role. Her attitude and desire to win impressed me back then and still does today.”
That attitude and desire never wavered, even while going through her redshirt season last year.
Powell credits her father, Michael, for her attitude and how she approaches tough situations. The two discuss everything together and when it came to deciding on whether or not to transfer, they weighed the different options and decided coming to SHU was the best choice.
“I thought the year off was the best thing to happen to Aleesha,” Michael Powell said. “It gave her a chance to develop her body more while not having to go through the wear and tear of a season. She got a chance to just watch college basketball and talk to her team- mates and mature a little bit… That was just what the doctor ordered for Aleesha last year.”
The development of Powell’s body was aided by strength and conditioning coach Ryan Carr, who implemented a plan to maximize her physical attributes by adding more muscle mass to her frame.
“She’s a very bright person; she understands what she needs to do,” Carr said. “Luckily we had a whole year to build her. Every game day last year she was lifting, she wasn’t just sitting around in a hotel room doing nothing; no she was training at a very intense level and she comes in every day with a great attitude which makes it easy.”
Easy is the last way Powell would describe her redshirt season.
She struggled with not getting to compete in live games. Not being able to contribute and help her teammates on the court was something she truly never got used too.
“Sitting out is not easy; it is extremely hard,” Powell said. “I don’t think I truly understood how hard it was until I got here and everyone started getting prepared to play. In the whole process [of transferring] I wanted to be happy, I could have stayed at Iona and could have played but my senior year wouldn’t have been what I wanted it to be. Now
I can finish with my coach who loves me and who is a great guy who has my best interest at heart, so I was like ‘I can sit out a year for him.’”
With her redshirt year now just a memory, Powell is ready to help power the Pirates toward anoth- er Big East championship and NCAA Tournament bid after last year’s stellar season.
“I want a championship,” she said of her goals. “I want rings. That’s what you play for; to go to the tournament and win. I want another banner for us and I’ll do whatever it takes to get us another one.”
Christian Pierre-Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CPLouis_.