Towson women’s basketball junior Aleah Nelson recently spoke with PressBox about starting her career at Cincinnati, her decision to transfer back home to the Baltimore area and more. The 5-foot-6 Nelson averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 assists per game for the Tigers last year. Her 130 total assists led the Colonial Athletic Association.
PressBox: How did you become interested in basketball?
Aleah Nelson: It’s actually a funny story. My dad and I, we love watching football. He’s a Cowboys fan. We still like the Ravens. I think it was when I was around 8 years old. … I would sneak downstairs and hide pillows underneath my blanket and we would watch the football game. We started passing the football back and forth. And he’s like, “How would you be interested in basketball?” He took me to a blacktop one day and ever since then I’ve been into sports and then specifically basketball.
PB: You started your college career at Cincinnati. Why did you decided to transfer back home?
AN: Cincinnati just wasn’t a good fit for me playing-wise. I loved the school, but even at Towson, they actually have my major, which is mass communication. [Cincinnati] didn’t have my major. On top of that, it didn’t work out playing-wise and I felt like I could have [played] more of a role on a team. When I went into the portal [at 8 p.m.], I think 30 minutes into the portal [at 8:30 p.m.], coach Zach [Kancher] was calling my phone. And I’ve known them forever. I’ve known coach Zach and coach [Diane Richardson] since … like sixth grade.
PB: You were a track star at McDonogh in addition to playing basketball. Did you ever think about trying to do both in college?
AN: I definitely did. I even talked to the track coach here, but how I’m feeling [while preparing for the season] and during the season, there’s no way I could ever be a dual athlete — not for me.
PB: What’s your favorite memory so far at Towson?
AN: Last year was just such a blur because it was just COVID and all that. When we beat Drexel on our Senior Day here [in 2021], I think Coach Rich said we had never beaten them … on Senior Day. It was a pretty big deal and the locker room atmosphere was fun. I was glad to witness that and be able to beat them on our Senior Day.
PB: What’s your favorite thing about Towson, both the school and the town?
AN: I think the diversity. The diversity on campus, to me it doesn’t really feel like a [predominantly white institution]. If I’m being 100 percent honest, it really doesn’t. And then the town, there’s just a lot to do. I could go out, I can go to the mall. I can go out, I can go get food. I have all my necessities, and of course I drive, too, so it’s easy access for everything — and plus being close to home.
PB: Who’s your best friend on the team and what’s a story that underscores your friendship?
AN: My best friend on the team I would say is Ryann Evans. I’ve known her since fifth grade. We played AAU together. I think honestly the best thing that describes our friendship is [when] I was dealing with a mental-health issue, she ran out of the weight room and came and comforted me. She even drove me home after I had an issue. We’re always so goofy together that when that happened, it really was the true definition of our friendship.
PB: Who was a player you looked up to early in your college career, either at Cincinnati or Towson?
AN: It’s probably the old point guard at Cincinnati, Antoinette Miller. She was a point guard there for four years. I really looked up to her. She kind of taught me everything I know and more, so that’s somebody that I’ll really look up to probably for the rest of my career. She was such a great point guard, and she taught me little things on and off the court.
PB: What advice would you give to younger players?
AN: Work when you’re tired. That’s probably the best advice I could give. In games, you’re going to be tired and stuff like that. … Do things that you don’t want to do.
PB: What are your goals for after basketball, whenever it ends?
AN: To be financially stable. I really want to get into the public relations field and possibly be a manager or a supervisor for a firm one day. Hopefully I can just get some help and be financially stable and start a family. Just know that I will always use those tools [from basketball] to guide me in life as well.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Towson Athletics
Originalyl published Oct. 20, 2021