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Basketball Standout Aliya Richmond ’21 Voted N&O Athlete of the Week

Ravenscroft basketball player Aliya Richmond ’21 was voted the News & Observer Athlete of the Week for Nov. 15-21. The recognition came after Richmond, a 5-foot-8-inch senior guard, averaged 17.7 points, nine rebounds, eight steals and four assists per game to help the Ravens get their season off to a 3-0 start.

“Aliya is a leader for our program in every sense of the word,” Coach Mike Ramel said of Richmond’s performance. “She is the only current four-year varsity member, and her teammates look to her for experience and guidance on a daily basis. She leads by example in constantly pushing herself to be the best player on the floor in everything that we do in practice, and it has translated into the games.”  

As the N&O reported, Richmond had 12 points in one quarter of play in the team’s 54-21 win at St. Mary’s on Nov. 18. She went on to score 22 points in a 65-45 victory over Mount Zion Nov. 20 and had 19 points in a 50-43 win over Cannon School the next day.

While those numbers spell success for Richmond as an individual player, they’re part of a larger commitment she has made to the team.

“A personal goal I had coming into the season was to be willing to adapt to the new personnel we had this year. We lost four of our starting five [players] this season, which I thought would alter the team entirely and I would have to pull their weight,” she said. “But that mindset would have made me into a selfish player, and that is something I never want to be known for. I wanted to be able to analyze my teammates’ strengths and weaknesses and use that to improve the team rather than doing everything myself. 

“In order for me to do that I would also need to be patient and allow for mistakes as we grow together as a team,” she added. “Winning and playing my best is also very important to me, but I want to win as a team and make sure everyone plays a part in our success.”

To achieve that goal, Richmond — who participated in Ravenscroft’s Student Athlete Leadership Training last year —  said she has used her experience to support her teammates, both on and off the court.

“I want my teammates to feel comfortable talking to me when there is a problem, whether it’s a major issue or not,” she said. “This has helped me outside of basketball to be more confident in myself and to use my voice. I used to be the quiet kid in the back, afraid to ask questions, but with the reinforcement from my team, I have built the courage to speak up and not cower when conflict may arise.” 

Ramel said her commitment to growth is one of the things that makes Richmond so successful — and why the recognition from the N&O is so fitting.

“I am very proud of her for winning this award — but I’m not surprised. With the work she has put in over the past three seasons that I have coached her, it was only a matter of time until she received the recognition she deserves,” he said. “As a two-time All-State selection, she is one of the best basketball players in the state yet has stayed under the radar. That is changing for her now. She is driven more than ever to lead our program to its maximum potential.”

As a senior looking for the opportunity to play collegiate basketball, Richmond said she’s thrilled to have the opportunity to hone her game at a time when many athletes have had their prospects hampered by the pandemic. 

“With COVID, I wondered if I would even have a season this year and be able to be seen by [college] coaches and achieve my dream of playing at the next level,” Richmond said. “The recognition I have gotten from the N&O means a lot to me and has been the first positive for coaches to see me and to see how much improvement I have made over the years. It has given me hope of a promising future.”