Alissa Pili has been named the Player of the Year in the Pac-12 Women's Basketball All-Conference Honours & Annual Performance awards ahead of the Pac-12 Womens Basketball tournament this weekend at Mandalay Bay's Michelob ULTRA arena in Las Vegas.
She is the first player playing for the Utah Utes to ever win the Pac-12 Player of the Year award and leads the league in both scoring and field goal percentage.
She's tracking to become just the second NCAA women's basketball player since 1999-2000 to average 20 points, hit 60% from the floor and make at least 20 3-pointers in a single season. She also scored in double figures in all but one game this season, including 16 20-point efforts.
We've been following the young, Samoan/Native Alaskan athlete since her high school days in Anchorage, Alaska where she was named in Max Prep Sports 'Top 20 High School athletes of the past two decades' alongside names like NBA star Lebron James & Olympian track athlete Allyson Felix.
Along the way Pili has picked up numerous awards and this will be the second time she's won a Pac 12 player of the year award - her first was in the 2019-20 season when she won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, playing for USC.
This season, Pili transferred to the Utah Utes and has been outstanding, helping lead them to their highest ranking ever in Utah womens basketball history.
They finished the regular season at No.3 (nationwide) after they clinched the Pac-12 Title for the first time in program history beating Stanford. (They're Pac-12 regular season co-champions with Stanford because they have the same record).
After the tournament in Las Vegas, they'll head into the NCAA tournament which is the nationwide championship.
The second of nine children, family is "everything" to Pili. In an interview with UtahUtes.com they describe how she grinned when she talked about her parents & how her brothers and sisters (four of each) who all play sports celebrate each other and push one another to be their best.
"I definitely value family more than anything," she said "I come from a powerful (Polynesian) background and that culture of love and family runs through me."
Pili's father Billy said of her latest achievement -
"We’re just happy for her, and that the work she’s put in is paying off.
I'm glad she’s found a team with the same drive which is to win, & coaches that give her freedom to do what she does lol but great team and couldn’t ask for a better group & coaches!"
"Can’t say that we’re surprised, but very grateful, humbled, proud ... She held herself accountable and did what she needed to do this season!" her mother Heather added.
It's been a big year for the Pili family. Alissa's older brother Brandon finished out his college football year with USC and has declared for the 2023 NFL draft.
One to watch ...
Heading into the Pac-12 tournament this weekend, here are another 5 players of Pacific Islands heritage to look out for:
Plays for: Washington State Cougar's
From: Logan City, Brisbane, Australia
SIRENA "PEANUT" TUITELE
Plays For: California Golden Bears
From: Chico, California
TE HINA PAOPAO
Plays For: Oregon Ducks
From: Oceanside, California
Position: Point Guard
Plays For: Stanford
From: Concord, California
Plays For: Washington State Cougar's
From: Waikato, New Zealand
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