When Ashton Lovely started playing AAU basketball as an 8-year-old she already knew what it meant to be a Division I college basketball player.
“Ever since I was little that was always my goal,” she said. “I would still play basketball, but I don’t think I would travel as much as I have if I had not been to play at the next level.”
Lovely, who will be a senior at Greeneview, leaves today for Indianapolis for the first of four AAU tournaments this month with the Cincinnati Angels. But she wanted to make an important decision first. So two Saturdays ago she made an oral commitment to play at the University of Cincinnati.
“I wanted to have it done by then, so I could just go out and have fun and not have to worry about it,” said Lovely, who also had offers from Akron and St. Francis (Pa.), and strong interest from Virginia Tech and Indiana.
Lovely will take an official NCAA visit to UC in August and sign with the Bearcats in November. She visited UC for the first time in May with her dad. Her mom and brother joined them on a later trip. Then two Saturdays ago she went back and committed.
“When I first went down there I never thought I would even like it,” Lovely said. “But once I got on campus and met the coaches, it just felt right. It felt like I’d been around them a really long time. And it’s only an hour away. I wanted to stay close, so it works out.”
Cincinnati is coming off a 12-18 season, a 4-12 finish in the Big East and a first-round exit in the conference tournament under fifth-year head coach Jamelle Elliott. Tecumseh 2,000-point scorer Bianca Quisenberry will be a freshman at UC this year.
Lovely was recruited as a point guard, but she can play either guard position. Her strengths are her deeper-than-most 3-point shooting range, passing and playing a fast-break style. Lovely said UC likes guards to be interchangeable, which suits her game and Quisenberry’s.
“She can shoot from anywhere; her floor vision is out of this world,” said Greeneview coach Gregg Haines. “She can handle it and she can operate an offense. And she loves the transition-style offense. She can create more and she passes really well in transition. I think it’s going to be a good fit for her.”
Lovely averaged 26 points a game as a sophomore and 20.1 this past year. Her assist average was up by two this past year to 6.8. Lovely should surpass 1,500 career points in Greeneview’s first game, and 2,000 points is within her reach.
“It would be cool to say that I have it, but it’s not a big deal,” she said. “I’m not about scoring. That’s what I happen to have to do, the role I play, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to win more than anything.”