Penn Hills’ A’Lysa Sledge signs on with UMass Lowell

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Saturday, November 21, 2020 | 11:01 AM


A’Lysa Sledge has known for months where she wanted to play basketball at the collegiate level.

The Penn Hills senior made it official Nov. 13 when she signed a national letter of intent to attend UMass Lowell next season.

The 5-foot-11 standout was mulling an offer from Niagara and also had interest from Radford and Cleveland State.

Sledge received an offer from UMass Lowell on May 11 and announced her verbal commitment Jun. 6 on Twitter.

Last season, Sledge played everywhere from point guard to center for Penn Hills. The Indians finished 12-12 last season and reached the WPIAL Class 5A quarterfinals.

When considering her options, Sledge loved how the River Hawks played position-less basketball and the family environment.

“The players and coaches said they play in position-less basketball. Wherever you fit at is where you’re going to play at,” she said. “Whenever I play for Penn Hills, I play every position on the court because the coach thought I could do everything.”

The recruitment process for all the hopeful college athletes has been a little difficult, given coronavirus pandemic concerns, and Sledge’s recruitment process wasn’t any different. She hasn’t stepped foot on campus because of the pandemic and has been doing Zoom calls with River Hawks coach Tom Garrick, along with his staff and players.

“It’s a family away from home. Everybody basically said the same thing about leaving their family and coming into UMass. They said how the coaches were there for them when they needed it,” Sledge said.

UMass Lowell went 16-15 last season, 11-5 in the conference and reached the America East semifinals. Bishop Canevin grad Shamyjha Price played 31 games and made eight starts as a freshman there last winter.

Sledge, who plans to major in business administration, entrepreneurship, reached out to Price for some insight on the River Hawks program.

“She was scared about how far away from home (it is). But after she got on campus and got a feel from the team she was cool,” Sledge said.

Since her verbal commitment in May, Sledge has experienced some tough times as she suffered a torn ACL in July in a game in Indianapolis with her AAU team, WPA Bruins, followed by the sudden death of her father and former Pitt standout, Demetreus Gore, in August.

Before his passing, Gore provided Sledge with guidance on how to navigate the college recruitment process.

“I talked to my dad about it, and he was just like I think that’s the right spot for you,” Sledge said.

As she rehabs her injury, Sledge believes she will be back on the court in May.

Sledge follows in the line of recent Penn Hills graduates who moved onto play basketball at the NCAA Division I level. Jade Ely (Cleveland State), Desiree Oliver (UMass), Adia Brisker (Morgan State) and Tayonna Robertson (Longwood) are former Indians who either played recently or are currently playing at the Division I level.

“It means everything,” Sledge said. “Around my 10th-grade year, I was giving up because I didn’t have any offers. But my coaches were motivating me and kept pushing me. When the offers started to come, it just got easier and I wasn’t worried as much as I was in my 10th-grade year.”

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