Words by Lola Mullaney, as told to Christian Mordi @thedribbledrop on Instagram and Twitter
I started playing basketball when I was 6 years old. My first aau team was in the 4th grade. I fell in love with the game at a young age.
My freshman year I played for Colts Neck. We were a pretty good team that year, as we were top 10 in the shore that year. I enjoyed my experience a lot and I wanted to take my game to the next level. I put in a lot of time that spring and summer on my craft. I ended up transferring to Manasquan High as well in the off season.
Coach Kukoda and I are very close. We talk all the time. At first, the adjustment was a little show. I had trouble adapting, but as the season went on we all started to mesh very well. We made a deep tournament run, but fell short in the championship game.
Last year we put it all together. We won the Shore championship and the Tournament of Champions. It was great experience.
When I started my AAU experience in high school, I initially played for the NYC Exodus, which is sponsored by Nike. Dara and I are very close and that was who she played for. She suggested and I tryout for Exodus.I played there the first couple of years and played up a couple age groups. I saw an uptick in my recruitment that summer, as I received my first offer from Boston College. For my last AAU season, I decided to play for BBA, which is sponsored by Adidas. It was a great fit for me. I love the coaches there and it felt like family from day one. Coach Saab was a great coach. He pushed me to a place I never thought I could get to. As soon as I joined, he welcomed me with open arms as I were his daughter. I know he worked very hard for me in the recruiting process and opened a lot of doors for me. He helped me reach my goal.
I didn’t announce a top five as I kept my recruitment rally between my family and coaches. I wouldn’t say I really had a top 5, I would say I just combed through every school seriously and cut my choices down as I went along. Yale, UPenn, Boston College, Quinnipiac and Harvard were some of the finalists.
In the end, I decided to continue my academic and basketball career at Harvard University. I went to the school on an unofficial visit. I went there with no expectations really, with an open mind ready to soak in the campus fully. I didn’t think I could ever get in. They have been recruiting me since I was a freshman. They came to almost every AAU tournament this summer. They made me a priority. I scheduled an official visit this summer and loved it. It felt like home. I loved the campus and the coaches are great. It was a great fit.
I want to thank my high school coach Lisa Kukoda. She’s always been there for me and helped me with my recruiting. Coach Antoine at BBA, who made this last year of AAU the best experience ever. I learned so much playing with him this year. I also want to thank my parents and friends for their continued support.