Aaliyah Spears is the starting point guard for the A.L. Brown Wonders and she's received several letters from Division I colleges interested in her.
She's also a freshman.
The 15-year-old Spears is the youngest player on the Wonders' varsity girls' basketball team, but she has been put in a leadership role on a team that struggled to a 2-17 record last year.
Being the only freshman on a team full of juniors and seniors isn't easy.
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"Sometimes they pick on me," said Spears before practice last week. They try to get her to do things they don't want to, like collect the balls after practice.
But she's earning their respect on the court.
Spears has led the team to a 3-0 start, with two wins over South Rowan and one against Carson. She's leading the team with four assists per game, distributing the ball to Zebresha Blakeney and Briana McGuine, who are each averaging over 13 points a game through the first two contests.
But this is exactly what coach Tosha Robinson expected from her young guard.
"I don't think it was a big adjustment for her," said Robinson about the transition from middle school to high school basketball. "She has a knack for the game."
"The pace of the game is faster than middle school," said Spears. The Wonders play a fast-paced game, running the court and trying to score points in transition.
"We're very conditioned," she said. "We're the fastest team in the conference, I think."
Spears' stellar middle school career is central in her ability to keep up with older players in high school. She had several games of more than 20 points, according to her father, Alfred, who coaches Spears on the Cabarrus Nuggets showcase team. He also said she had two triple-doubles (double digits for three stat categories in one game) in middle school.
Those numbers led to high expectations when she became a freshman at Brown.
"People were talking about me changing the program," said Spears. "It was kind of nerve-racking.... They expect me to do so much."
"At first I was nervous. I'm really shy," she said. The soft-spoken guard and her coach both said that one of her main areas of improvement is to become a more vocal leader on the court. In her third game, Spears said she finally felt comfortable calling plays on the court and talking to her team.
Spears is also a leader off the court. She is the freshman-class president at Brown and is an A/B honor roll student. She likes math and admits she really likes school. If she doesn't make a career out of playing basketball, she wants to be a pediatrician.
Outside of basketball, she enjoys playing golf, plans to run track in the spring and wants to be on the volleyball team next fall. She didn't play this year because she wanted to focus on her main sport.
With a father that has coached basketball for 12 years and played at Concord High, it's almost impossible for her to lose focus on basketball.
"It's basketball, everyday," she said. "Lunch, dinner, morning, night. I'm trying to go to bed and he's (my father) talking about basketball."
Her dedication to the sport has paid off. She's already received letters from several college basketball teams, like UNC Chapel Hill, American, Wingate and Georgia Tech.
With Carolina-blue shoes and a UNC shirt on, it's pretty clear which school she wants to play for. She wants to be a Tar Heel after watching Ivory Latta, a point guard that led the Tar Heels to two Final Fours between 2004 and 2007 and now plays in the WNBA.
"I don't want to be like her; I want to be better than her," said Spears.
Though quiet at times, the freshman doesn't lack confidence, both in herself and in her team. She's ready to prove to the rest of the South Piedmont Conference that Brown is back.
"We've improved from last year," she said. "I want people to know that. They think we're the same old A.L. Brown."
"We're going to earn our respect."