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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Alisha Little dominated on CSU Pueblo’s women’s basketball team with record-breaking season

Little was selected for the All-South Central Region First Team. (Photo provided by Ben Greenberg)

The star of the Colorado State University Pueblo women’s basketball team is Alisha Little, a 6-foot-1 redshirt junior forward from Aurora, Colo. 

This past season, Little averaged more than 20 points, nearly 12 rebounds and more than three blocks per game. She also became the all-time leader in Colorado’s Collegiate women’s college basketball history with 294 career blocks. That happened during the Feb. 16th game at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, where she passed the previous record holder, Kim Good. Good set the record of 287 career blocks while playing for Colorado Mines from 1999-2002. Little also led the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) in numerous categories this past season, and several times was nominated as RMAC player of the week; as well as was named to both the First-Team All RMAC and the All-South Central Region First team and was named as the RMAC Defensive Player of the Year. 

Alisha Little’s headshot for this past basketball season. (Photo provided by Ben Greenberg)

However, her success almost didn’t happen. 

“I didn’t start playing basketball till the sixth grade when I was in middle school due to the fact that my parents forced me to play some sort of sport growing up,” Little said. “I chose basketball because I was super-tall and didn’t like being outside as a kid nor did I like wearing those tight spandex shorts volleyball players have to wear while playing, so I chose basketball instead. As far as other sports I played growing up, I ran track and field a little bit in middle school, but mainly in high school where I competed in both the long jump and high jump. It wasn’t until high school though that I started taking track and field more seriously because it not only kept me in shape throughout the whole year in preparation for basketball but also I started to find a passion for it. 

“…I remember winning state in the high jump event my senior year… I remember my sophomore year we won state in both girls basketball and in track and field as a lot of the girls on the girls basketball team competed in different events for track and field that year, which was such a really cool experience. My family is a very sports-oriented family as I have two younger sisters who play both soccer and track and field in middle/high school.” 

Little attended Grandview High School from 2015-2019, where she averaged 10.1 points per game, 1.7 assists per game, 7.4 rebounds per game, 1.9 steals per game, and 2.9 blocks per game. She played on two state championship teams, named to the All-State team her senior year,  named to the first-team All-League both her junior and senior years, named to the All-State honorable mention team her junior year, and named to the first-team All-Tournament at the Nick Tournament of Champions her sophomore year. 

“Grandview H.S. has always had a successful girls basketball program, rich in history. But besides that, the school has always been pretty good academically as well as and helped shape us into becoming successful student athletes at such an early age. For example, when we won our first state title, that was the first state title in Grandview’s school history, which was such an amazing and awesome experience to be a part of because the team at that time was super talented as one of our players in particular Michaela Onyenwere, who was two years older than me at that time,went on to play college basketball at UCLA and professionally in the WNBA, which was such a cool experience to not only be a part of her basketball journey, but to also make school history. Personally, I think that my experience at Grandview helped shape me into the fellow competitor/student athlete that I am today because it provided me with the tools that I need to be successful not only inside the classroom (off the court), but also outside the classroom (on the court), as well as helped create a healthy competitive/fun environment that coincided with our team’s goal which was to compete for a state championship year after year.” 

Little became the new all-time blocks leader in Colorado women’s collegiate history. (Photo provided by Ben Greenberg).

After graduating, she signed with the University of Northern Colorado, an NCAA Div. I program. Little spent two seasons at Northern Colorado (2019-2021) where she led the team her freshman year in points (averaged 12.7 points per game); rebounds (averaged 7.3 rebounds per game, setting a Div. I recorded 225 total rebounds); and blocks (recorded 68, which was fourth all-time in Div. I in a single season). 

 Little said, “At the Div. I level, it is really competitive, and the staff’s job there is to make sure that you as a player are doing well athletically as academics aren’t their main priority. For instance, I was doing really well on the court, but off the court academically I was not doing what I really wanted to do. My dream or goal was to become a nurse, as my major at the time was in pre-nursing. However the academic advisors suggested that I change my degree into something completely different so that I could get into the nursing program there, plus they were willing to help me plan or map everything out in order to help me achieve my dream of becoming a nurse but weren’t  willing to help me pay for nursing school at all. When in actuality, I needed help paying for school as my goal was to graduate from college with little to no debt. So, I decided to leave Northern Colo. because they weren’t willing to help me pay for nursing school, and I wasn’t willing to keep sacrificing things if they weren’t going to help me pay for school. Plus, I was pursuing that nursing degree and I wanted to put myself in the best possible position I could towards my future success as a nurse as I know growing up watching my dad, Andra Davis, who played football in the NFL for 12-seasons, that sports typically don’t last forever, and I need to start preparing for my future, not just now. So, ultimately, I decided to take the risk and enter my name into the transfer portal after going back-and-forth about it while talking to my family and God about it multiple times, as religion is very important to me and my family.” 

When asked what made her such a dominant player at UNC, Little responded: “I was younger when I first started at Northern Colorado, so I honestly did not really focus on anything outside of basketball and if I wasn’t playing basketball, I was partying. Therefore, I didn’t really take anything else super seriously because I was not getting what I wanted academically as they wanted me to switch to a nutrition degree, which is something I wasn’t really interested in or was searching for as my goal/dream was to become a nurse. 

“So, I was able to put all my time and energy into playing basketball which I guess set me apart from everyone else as I was constantly working on my craft. I also really enjoyed the team aspect of everything, and it was one of my favorite teams to be a part of specifically because my teammates and I would always hang out all of the time together outside of practice and games. One of my favorite memories with my teammates is that we would always go to Dutch Bros together as that was like our go to/bonding/place to hang out. Overall, that team helped me learn how to be this dominant player and still have fun with my teammates as this was the first time that I felt like I could do both without there being any consequences or repercussions.” 

How did she land at CSU Pueblo, a Div. II program?

“After I put my name in the transfer portal I got a lot of crazy offers from different schools that I wasn’t expecting including some of my dream schools like Oregon and other bigger Div. I schools. However, a lot of those schools were going to do the same thing as Northern Colo.; in the sense that they wanted to make sure that I was going to do my best on the court athletically, but when it came to my academic success off the court, they were going to treat it way differently as they weren’t going to prioritize and help me achieve my dream of becoming a nurse. However, a lot of those schools were going to do the same thing as Northern Colo. In the sense that they wanted to make sure that I was going to do my best on the court athletically, but when it came to my academic success off the court they were going to treat it way differently as they weren’t going to prioritize and help me achieve my dream of becoming a nurse. 

“So, then I was able to get into contact with Coach Tommie Johnson, who is the head coach of the women’s basketball team at CSU-Pueblo and someone I have known forever since I used to play high school basketball with his daughter, Tomia Johnson. Once I got in contact with him, I didn’t talk to many schools after that because he wasn’t just telling me something I wanted to hear like most of those other schools that I had talked to, as I could tell he and his coaching staff were super supportive of their players and wanted me to do well academically as well as basketball-wise. 

“One of the reasons I chose CSUP is because I am a very family oriented-person and the school was super close to home, as I am originally from Aurora, and my family, including my daughter, are able to come to all of the home games. Plus, I am able to take my daughter to go see my family, as it is only a 1 hour drive away. And I am very close to my sister as well, who goes to school at UCCS in the Colorado Springs area. 

“The other reason is that CSUP has a really good nursing program, which is something that you can’t get at any of the other bigger Div. I schools as my dream and goal has always been to become a nurse. From my own personal experience playing at a Div. I level and now at the Div. II level, there are a lot of similarities such as: the facilities are really nice for both, the gear we get is super nice for both, the athletic training staff was really good for both, and in both we didn’t have to worry about paying for food and hotels as they were provided for us. The only difference I have noticed is that when I was at Northern Colorado, we got to fly in a private charter plane for our road games compared to now at CSUP, we have to take extremely long bus rides to all of our away games, but thankfully our away games aren’t too far for us to travel. All in all, based on my personal opinion and experience playing at both the Div. I level and at the Div. II level are overall pretty similar.” 

Little broke the single season rebound record at CSU Pueblo for women’s basketball this season. (Photo provided by Ben Greenberg)

It hasn’t always been easy for Little in Pueblo. Little sat out the 2022-2023 season because she was pregnant and expecting her first child. But after that, she began to fit in nicely. 

“My experience was definitely different from my experience at Northern Colo. because coming in I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes or want to feel like I was that new person coming in from a Div. I school who thought they were better than everyone else and who could take over the team from the jump. That was truly never my intention coming in. 

“However, I do think that the girls that we did have that year were extremely competitive and really into winning, so we never really had issues like that on the court as a lot of the players on the team did their part. Also, I wasn’t the only new transfer on the team as Tomia Johnson came in, and we had a couple other new transfers and freshmen who joined the team as well, which contributed to the team’s fast success that year after going through a lot of changes. 

“We finished the season that year with a 23-9 overall record, were 17-5 in the RMAC conference, and went into the RMAC Tournament ranked fourth overall where we ended up losing in the RMAC Tournament Championship game to sixth-ranked Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver). Nevertheless it was still a great experience for the people who were on that team that year knowing that we were able to battle through that adversity and still be successful, as we were able to compete in the quarterfinal of the NCAA South Central Regional vs. #3-ranked Lubbock Christian where we sadly ended up losing. However that was such a cool experience and something that I will always remember and hold onto as not a lot of players can say they competed in the NCAA Tournament; plus I still have that medallion they gave us from the tournament saying we actually made it this far in the tournament which is something I will hold close to me and remember forever and hopefully we can go back there soon.

“When I found out that I had gotten pregnant last season (2022-2023), I was super excited at first, but also it was super difficult and challenging because I thought that a lot of people were going to be disappointed in me as I was one of the leading scorers on the team and I had contributed a lot to the team. Plus I felt like I was letting a lot of people down. But, I had a lot of support from my teammates, family and the coaching staff as they were all super understanding and supportive and were telling me how much of a blessing it was to be able to have my daughter. 

“Even after I had my daughter it was extremely difficult trying to balance getting back in shape so that I could help my team and be the best teammate I could possibly be for the upcoming 2023-2024 season, along with trying to be there as much as I could for my daughter. 

“I felt guilty about missing those senior moment’s for those seniors on the team that previous season because when I came back the next season those seniors had already graduated, which is something even to this day that will always kind of bother me in the sense that I missed out on those moments, but at the same time, I still get to see those teammates every now and then, and I wouldn’t change this experience for the world because I have my daughter Genesis from it. We chose the name Genesis because my husband and I, along with my family are Christians and Genesis is the first book in the bible. The other reason is that she was our first child, plus we felt like she is the queen of our family and it was the start of ‘something new,’ so our daughter symbolizes a lot for us, which is why we named her Genesis.”  

Having a baby also changed her approach to the game. It made her an overall better, and more-complete player. 

“I think that just coming back from having a baby was hard, but over the summer I had talked to Coach Tommie Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff about focusing on the fundamentals of basketball, instead of just focusing on my game itself in the sense that, ‘I need to score X amount of points, have X amount of rebounds, and X amount of blocks each game.'”

Little broke the single season scoring record this season for the women’s basketball team. (Photo provided by Ben Greenberg)

The shift away from individual statistics was good for Little and her team. 

“… Everything has started to come naturally to my game, which in turn takes a lot of the load and pressure off myself instead of getting in my head telling myself that I have to do way too much for the team in order for the team to be successful. Additionally, I am on a great team, which makes my job extremely easy, and in turn makes our team’s overall success inevitable. 

“An example of this is that during the game at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo on Feb. 16, I had just found out that I had broken the all-time Colorado blocks record in women’s college basketball collegiate history when I passed Colorado Mine’s Kim Good record (from 1999-2002) of 286 career blocks. I now have 290+ career blocks, which is something I did not know until after the game, as well as something I did not know that I was close to breaking, until one of my teammates told me after the game. 

“I was kind of confused at first until I had spoken with my dad after the game where he had explained to me how monumental this record truly was. In that moment when I found out about the record, I felt accomplished and proud because I had etched my name in the record and history books, as this was something that hadn’t been done before in the last 22-years (since 2002) or until the next person breaks it whenever that may be. 

“This record was something really cool as there wasn’t any pressure to break the record heading into the game because I hadn’t known about it, plus also after the game, our team was just focused on the next game as we had a double-header the next night against Chadron State in Chadron, Neb., which we ended up winning as well.

“… I credit some of my success to my teammates as they make my job easy on a day-in-and-day-out basis in every game and practice. I also credit my success to the coaching staff as I think that the coaching staff did a phenomenal job of putting together the team overall success this past season as we have had a lot of players step up, such as: Autumn Watts, who is a power forward that is dominant both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor and has a high basketball IQ; along with players like Landri Hudson and Ro Dominguez who are guards that are shooters that can play great on the defensive end of the floor as well. There is also Tomia Johnson, who is our team’s point guard that runs the offense as she leads the team in assists with 3.5 per game and is great on the defensive end of the floor as well as she leads the team in steals with 2.1 per game. There is also Lelani Love, who is a freshman power forward and center that is super dominate offensively on the glass (getting rebounds); as well as players like Jolene Ramiro and Brynae Stewart, who are super talented young (freshmen) guards. Plus there is also Yara Garcia, whom we call “YG,” that is a talented shooter that can knock down shots from anywhere. Lastly there is Shamahra Henderson, who is a super athletic, meaning that our coach can put her on any player from any team, including their starr player and she will lock them down defensively.” 

The team’s talent and work ethic has Little excited for next season (2024-2025). 

“I am interested to see how we play as a team as not a lot of players are leaving (only have two seniors graduating). And now that we have gotten past this past season (2023-2024) under our belts due to the fact that we had a lot of players come back from injury and pregnancy, and we also had a lot of new transfers coming in (freshman), it should be really interesting to see how well we do next season. All in all, I am really excited to see the future of this team and program, as I believe that we can accomplish big things next season as long as we continue to develop our players well like we have been doing.” 

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