Aliyah Lawson is a Class of 2016, 5’6” Point Guard from Whitby, ON. She has speed to go along with very good footwork which is always on display at both ends of the court. She doesn’t have to think twice about which hand she needs to finish around the basket. On the defensive side, there aren’t many Guards that she can’t torment, matching them stride for stride and making their lives difficult with her ability to strip the ball.
Oh… I should also mention that she is accomplishing these feats against players 2 years older than her, playing on the YAAACE U17 rep team.
Lawson says that she started playing basketball at the age of seven and has played with such rep organizations as the York South Silver Knights and the Scarborough Blues before landing with YAAACE. But reading between the lines, her spark for the love for the game came from right within her very household.
“I always used to watch my brothers play basketball, and I’d play it with them for fun at first. But, they noticed that I started to get better. They didn’t give me anything easy, so I really had to work for everything. And, once I started to realize how good I was, it kind of motivated me to be as good as my brothers. And I just started to like winning and having that aggression of not wanting to lose.”
Now that spark has turned into a flame along with the help of her Coach and father, Candley. However, it is a controlled flame of sorts. On one hand, there’s a passion for developing her skills in order to assuredly accomplish her goals. On the other hand, there is an self-evaluating side that allows helps her to keep things into perspective.
“I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose, but, I’m not a sore loser. I’ll accept my wrongs, but I will, fight…not literally, of course. I think that I’m a great player and I still have potential, but I still thnik that there’s a lot of work [left for] improvement. There are a lot of areas that I can still do better in,” she says, and concludes confidently, “but overall, I think I’m a pretty good player.”
Her confidence, skill and ability to look at things objectively, appears to have galvanized a level maturity that enables her to see things from a really good perspective. It is a perspective that lends itself for the foundation of what could result in being quite a leader.
“Of course,” Lawson says when asked about whether a role like that could be in her future. “Everyone always says, ‘Go, take the ball, score however many points’, but I don’t think of it that way. I think that if I’m scoring all those points, and it comes to a point where I can’t, I have to have the confidence to depend on my team. So, in order to do that, I feel like I need to start giving them the ball [in non-pressure situations], and giving them the tough passes so they know what to expect in [higher pressure] situations”, she says with foresight. “I try to put them in a situation where they shouldn’t feel nervous.”
Lawson also appears to be able to draw on an empathetic/communicative side of her character, which she finds useful when trying to get the best of her teammates.
“Yeah, I usually talk a lot to help them feel more involved. I encourage them, like telling them they had a nice shot. Or, I’ll sit down with them and let them know if they are making any mistakes, so that they can improve on it next time. I’ll say what I have on defense, to help know what’s going on defence. I know that when I have played with older teams, and when I first started I was like ‘Oh, my gosh’, so I know how it feels. So, I know when people encourage me it helps, so I just try to do the same for them.”
Lawson has won Division 1 Gold at the rep level, a championship at the elementary school level, and has just pushed her Sinclair Celtics to new heights at the Junior High school level this past high school season. Despite the successes, Lawson hasn’t lost sight of some of the things she will need to focus on going forward to continue to reach new heights in her game.
“My midrange shot jump shot,” said Lawson with a sheepish grin. “I’m a good 3-pt shooter if I’m wide open. I can involve my team and pass, but I need to learn more about how to breakdown my defender and stop and hit that midrange jump shot, instead of going all the way to the basket.”
And realizing more and more that the difference in height between her and many of the post players she is now coming across, will make life increasingly difficult in the paint, she went on to say,
“Because there’s a lot of girls that are bigger than me now that I am playing [in an older age group], going all the way to the basket is harder now. They’re taller, more aggressive, so I need to learn to do a floater or get it away with that midrange jump shot. So, that’s something that I’m really trying to improve on.”
Open to any and all post secondary options, the aspiring lawyer or elementary school teacher summed up her outlook for the remainder of high school career as follows.
“I just want to strive in improving my game, and involving everyone else around me and helping my teammates get better. From there, I will see where things go.”