Chartiers Valley girls basketball player Aislin Malcolm shows poise beyond years

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 5:54 PM

If Aislin Malcolm had any ideas about going through high school as a two-sport athlete, they were quashed at an early age.

Basketball always has been her primary sport, but she also played soccer as a youngster. Her brother, Cian, five years older, similarly played lacrosse as his primary sport and dabbled in soccer as a side gig.

During one of his soccer matches, Cian broke his arm as Aislin watched in horror. She went to their father immediately and told him she was done with soccer.

Despite his assurances the odds of same thing happening to her were slim, Malcolm would have none of it. There was no way an injury in her “secondary” sport was going to hinder her primary sport.

Injuries have not hindered Malcolm. Nor has anything else, for that matter. Just a sophomore at Chartiers Valley, she has become one of the top girls basketball players in the WPIAL.

Malcolm, averaging 18.0 points, already has offers from Pitt, Duquesne, WVU, Western Michigan and Kent State and is trying to help the Colts (16-0, 9-0 Section 1-5A through Jan. 22) match their undefeated season from a year ago.

That’s a lot to put on such a young player. But coach Tim McConnell said Malcolm is more than equipped to handle it. She even was named a team captain.

“The girl is so mature and level-headed,” McConnell said. “She doesn’t let it affect her. She is very down to Earth, doesn’t brag about herself, doesn’t promote herself.”

Malcolm admitted all the attention gets a little overwhelming at times, but she tries to turn it to her advantage.

“I have fun with it,” she said, adding she is still a long way from making a decision on her college future. “It’s fun to listen to different college coaches and visit other places. It helps me make my decision easier. I am limiting the campuses and coaches I like.”

A 5-foot-10 shooting guard who also can play the point, Malcolm was an integral part of the Colts’ WPIAL and PIAA championship teams a season ago. With all the attention she received and with the team’s success, she knew she had to prepare even harder for this season.

McConnell said she worked on expanding her offense. She primarily was a perimeter shooter but has improved her ability to drive to the basket.

“I think this season I am being more aggressive,” she said. “I wasn’t afraid last year, but now I have to prove something and go out and play like I know how. I know I always have my teammates there to pick me up, and I don’t get as hard on myself.”

One teammate in particular makes sure she remains upbeat: her older sister, Amaleen.

Amaleen Malcolm, a senior, is known as a volleyball player. She played basketball in junior high but stopped once she reached high school. But after much prodding from her younger sister, Amaleen relented and joined the basketball team this season.

Her presence has been a boon to Aislin.

“She’s my best friend,” Aislin said. “Even if I think I played a bad game, I just talk to her, and she just says, ‘Ais, it’s just a game.’

“I’m really a big perfectionist, so I think everything has to be perfect. But with basketball, that’s not the case, so I have to realize that.”

The Colts are doing their best to disprove her theory that nothing is perfect in basketball. With a lineup that features two other Division I recruits — senior Megan McConnell, a Duquesne commit, and sophomore Perri Paige — Chartiers Valley is well-positioned to run the Class 5A table again.

Malcolm said the team continues to stress defense and unselfishness. They also understand, she said, every opponent is going to “play us 10 times harder than anyone else.”

So far, the Colts have stood up to that pressure. Just like their sophomore shooting guard.

“She doesn’t act like a sophomore, and she doesn’t play like a sophomore,” Tim McConnell said. “She’ll make a spin move and finish with her left hand, and I’ll think, ‘Wow. I get (two) more years of this.’ ”


More Basketball

Hall of fame basketball coach Joe Lafko steps down at Hampton
Corey Dotchin steps down as Highlands boys basketball coach
PIAA taking bids to host basketball championships
Basketball coach Rob Niederberger, who lifted Shaler from last place to WPIAL contender, resigns
Penn Hills senior joins Point Park basketball at exciting time