UTAH UTES

Alissa Pili: Pride Of Alaska, Utah Women’s Basketball

Dec 12, 2023, 2:51 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Before she was a Ute, or a Trojan, or a national college basketball star, Alissa Pili belonged to Alaska. In fact, it’s safe to say Pili is the pride of Alaska and always will be.

Before all of the hoopla surrounding Pili’s career-high performance against No. 1 South Carolina over the weekend, Utah’s talented forward got to take a trip home to Anchorage with the Utes to compete in the Great Alaska Shootout where that “Alaska pride” was on full display.

It was an opportunity not only for Pili to ball out with her teammates in front of all the people who believed in her first, but a chance for her to show the Utes her roots.

Mi Casa, Su Casa: A Warm Alaska Welcome For The Utah Utes

The welcome mat was literally rolled out for Pili and the Utes the minute they landed in Alaska. Pili says she was just expecting her parents and siblings to be there. Instead, the Utes were greeted by a good chunk of Pili’s extended family too.

“It was great,” Pili said. “I was just expecting my siblings and my parents, but a bunch of my family came out. I think it just goes to show how supportive my family is no matter the time or place. They are going to be there. Just to have them there and welcome my team to my home- it was a great thing. I’m glad they got that warm welcome.”

Pili has said many times now what attracted her to the Utes after transferring was the family feel head coach Lynne Roberts has established. Pili has never been shy about how hard she goes for not only her biological family, but for her extended team family which made it exciting for her to have both together and spending time with each other for a few days in her old stomping grounds.

“I think a lot of [my teammates] see where I got my- why I go so hard about family and stuff,” Pili said. “I think they got a glimpse of where that comes from. I think they saw how loving and supportive my family is. We had a lunch, and all of my family was there. They came with some gifts for the team. After we left, some of the girls were asking if my family could adopt them. It was funny.”

Alaska isn’t the easiest place to get to. It’s also not a common place to hold a big sporting event which is what made the opportunity to play college ball in her hometown and share the culture with her teammates so special for Pili.

“It was honestly a very unique experience, I think,” Pili said. “It’s home so I’ve been there before, but unique in the sense that playing at home in college- I kind of felt like I was in high school again, but it was also unique for my teammates to see where I came from. It was just a chance for me to see how big my support base is in Alaska. It was really cool to see all of the people come out. I think it was a record-breaking attendance for a women’s basketball game. Just to know that I have so many people there other than my family that obviously support me. It’s a big motivator I think and makes me even more prideful to carry that Alaska name with me.”

 

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 The Nation Is Waking Up To What Alaska Already Knew: Alissa Pili Can Ball

It’s been about three weeks since Pili and the Utah women’s basketball team have been back from their Alaska trip and the accolades are really starting to roll in for the Anchorage native.

The Pride of Alaska put on a show on December 10 against the No.1 South Carolina Gamecocks that still has people talking about her.

Pili’s 37-point game was a career best coming against the best the country has to offer.

It earned her Pac-12 Player of the Week on December 11 and has now earned her ESPN Player of the Week as well.

While the growing recognition is nice for Pili, one thing is for certain, no one is saying anything that Alaska didn’t already know about their homegrown star.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Alissa Pili: Pride Of Alaska, Utah Women’s Basketball