Chemistry a specialty for Aberdeen captain Alleyne

Junior, who can play any position and also runs cross country and track, is aiming for a career as a pharmacist

  • Junior captain Nia Alleyne, who is enrolled in Aberdeen's challenging Science and Mathematics Academy and has a 3.4 GPA, is trying to lead the Eagles to their first state title.
Junior captain Nia Alleyne, who is enrolled in Aberdeen's… (Algerina Perna / Baltimore…)
March 09, 2011|By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

Nia Alleyne is a critical cog in No. 2 Aberdeen's run to the state tournament as it goes for its first state title beginning with Thursday's semifinal vs. Largo at UMBC. Averaging 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals, the 5-foot-8 junior can play any forward or guard position. Alleyne, 17, is as strong in the classroom as she is on the court. Enrolled in Aberdeen's challenging Science and Mathematics Academy, she maintains a 3.4 GPA and plans to become a pharmacist. She plays Amateur Athletic Union basketball for the Baltimore Cougars and runs cross country and track for the Eagles. Last spring, she finished fifth in the state in the Class 3A triple jump. Community service is also a priority for Alleyne, who enjoys working with youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club and in summer recreation programs.

Question: How did you get started playing basketball?

Answer: I used to always play basketball in the driveway outside with the neighborhood kids. I never really played organized basketball until sixth grade, when one of my friends told me I should play, so I played. I started out with park and rec, and I was pretty good at it, so my coach put me on an AAU team and I've been playing ever since.

Q: What's your role on the team this year?

A: My role on the team as captain is basically to make sure that everybody's playing their game. I'm pretty much an all-around player. I can play the 1 through the 4. I don't really play the 5. We leave that to Bri [6-3 center Bri Jones]. On the court, we just like to make everybody keep their composure and play to the best of their ability.

Q: Do you like that leadership role?

A: Yeah, I like it. Our team is really disciplined and not going to get an attitude with me or anything if I tell them to do something. We get along, and I just like my team skillwise. We all make each other look good playing together.

Q: How did the guards on your team develop such tight chemistry?

A: I've been playing with Ayana Stewart since the first team I played on, the travel team. She was on there, so was Lakeia Hayden and Jimmia [McCluskey]. We basically grew up playing together. We already know what the other person's going to do. I hadn't played with Bri in a league, but they had, so they had chemistry, too.

Q: How does the connection work between the four of you and Bri?

A: We know when Bri posts up, when to give it to her. We know a simple lob, she can get it. When it's a mismatch, we pass it to her. We trust that if she knows she doesn't have the shot, she's going to kick it back out to us for an inside-outside game. We'll get our shots. She'll get her layups. It's pretty much spread out.

Q: Bri scores a lot of points, so she gets most of the headlines. How do the rest of you handle that?

A: She gets a lot of attention, but we don't get jealous or mad or angry or anything, because we understand of course [she's] over 6-foot and one of the best in the county. We basically know we have something to do with it. That's why we don't get upset.

Q: What does it mean to be going to states?

A: It means a lot to us because last year we thought we were going and we probably got a little overconfident. It was really frustrating to get knocked out by Poly last year [in the regional playoffs], so we're really excited. Our senior really, really wanted this, so we're doing it for her, Ayana Stewart. It's just a good opportunity for all of us.

Q: How do you get into the Science and Math Academy?

A: When you're in eighth grade, you apply. Basically, they make you write an essay as to why you would like to be in it. If you make it to the next round, you come in and take a little test and write an essay for them and you get accepted.

Q: Why did you want get in?

A: I always showed interest in science and math in middle school, so I figured if I was going to come to Aberdeen, why not overachieve a little? I had nothing to lose.

Q: What is your favorite class?

A: Right now, it's between AP Calculus and Science and Research Technology. That's a class where we do a mixture of things. Each quarter we do something different. My first and second quarters, we did more agricultural things. This quarter, we're doing more stuff like genetics, biology. Next quarter, we're going to do robotics and stuff.

Q: What's something most people don't know about you?

A: They don't usually know that I'm intelligent. Even still today, I'll tell somebody I have to go up to the third floor, and they'll be like, "You're in the Science and Math Academy?" I'm like, "Yeah." They don't really know. I think most people know me more as an athlete.

Q: Who do you look up to?

A: I look up to my parents because I do a lot of silly things and they're always telling me: 'That was silly. Don't do it again.' They pretty much guide me through my life. We're really close.

Q: What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?

A: The best advice anyone ever gave me was to just be myself and don't let anybody tell me that I can't do something, because I can, and don't let that ever de-motivate me because I'll never know unless I actually try. My parents gave me that advice. A lot of people did, actually, but my parents were the first.

Q: How does that come through on the basketball court?

A: I follow it 100 percent. I know if I'm there on that 3-point [line] and I'm wide-open, shoot it and have confidence in my shot and think it's going in. If it doesn't, then I'll get it next time.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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