The car keys hanging around her neck after a recent practice are the giveaway.
Take those away and Alisha Andrews doesn’t look old enough to be a member of Redan’s varsity girls’ basketball team. The multi-colored backpack she sported didn’t help matters.
At 4-foot-11, the soft-spoken Andrews has basketball abilities that often get dismissed by those unfamiliar with her talents. But that mistake isn’t made twice.
All it took was a couple of no-look passes from the senior point guard to gain the respect of her opponents at the Beachball Classic tournament in South Carolina over Christmas break. The defending Class AAAAA state champion Raiders won the tournament and pushed their winning streak to 37 games.
When Anderson puts on the blue and silver Redan uniform and steps onto the basketball court, she leaves behind her unassuming demeanor.
“I’m a whole other person when I’m playing,” Andrews said. “I’m way louder. My teammates had to get used to that because off the court I don’t say too much. I just act differently when I’m playing, like a mood swing or something. But I’m more comfortable and relaxed on the court.”
Andrews, who plays AAU basketball for the Wallace Prather Celtics in Atlanta, may have gotten her tough skin on the court from playing against boys in the recreation leagues when she first started playing basketball.
“That made me play harder,” she said.
It’s an attribute that still shows itself as Andrews has become a well-rounded player.
Before the South Carolina tournament, Andrews was leading the Raiders in scoring, assists, steals and 3-point shooting percentage. She led the county in assists (seven per game) and 3-point shooting (58 percent, making 21of 36).
“I think the best thing about Alisha as a player is her basketball IQ,” said Redan coach Jerry Jackson. “How she approaches the game is different from a lot of players. She puts everybody in position and knows what everybody’s role is.”
It’s not uncommon for Jackson to come into the gym on practice days and find that Andrews and co-captain Nia Evans have already begun to run their teammates through drills.
“They listen to her,” Jackson said. “That’s something I noticed that she’s always had. She’s always accepted whatever role we needed her in. And this year she’s become a leader.”
Andrews’ court smarts and her ability to adapt to different situations not surprisingly transfers into the classroom. She is an A/B student, and both of those qualities have drawn college scouts from all over the country.
She has a scholarship offer from Fairfield University, an NCAA Division I program in Connecticut, and has generated interest from other schools, including Central Florida, Jacksonville, Florida A&M and Pepperdine.
The recruiting process has been something Andrews has enjoyed, and she said she will wait until the end of the season before signing a scholarship.
“As soon as she narrows down her choices, then she gets more schools interested,” Jackson said.
Although last year’s team went 27-0 and won a state title, Andrews said this year’s team is even more cohesive.
While Andrews has been one of the team’s scoring leaders – she had a season-high 23 points earlier in the year against Luella – her defense and ball-handling skills are what separate her from other point guards across the state.