The label "smart player" is often overused, but few descriptions are more appropriate for River Hill High School senior Alicia Seelaus.
The 6-foot-tall Seelaus excels in the classroom and is headed to Yale University in the fall. Her tireless work on the basketball court has also made her one of the Baltimore area's top forwards, as she showed with 13 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and three blocks in a recent win over Centennial.
Seelaus talks about her role in the Hawks' potent frontcourt, as well as her future plans, which might include becoming a doctor.
You've managed to excel in both basketball and the classroom. Has that been difficult for you?
Well, it's not easy, but it's not too difficult. It's doable if you just stay focused and manage your time.
You played a role on River Hill's Class 3A state championship team three years ago and often had to face opposing players who were bigger and more experienced than yourself. Did that help you grow as a player?
Definitely, because I was a nervous little freshman. I definitely think I benefited from just playing with better, more experienced players on other teams, as well as our own team. It was great just being able to practice everyday against some of the best players in the county and the state.
Your coach, Teresa Waters, gives you high praise for your effort on both ends of the court. Is that something you've tried to focus on?
Definitely, because coach Waters always says that basketball players have to play both ends of the court. It's not like other sports, where you're just playing defense or you're an attack person. To really excel, you just have to work hard on both ends. Coach Waters has always emphasized that she doesn't play people who don't play defense. I think that's a good motto, because it doesn't matter if you score 50 points in a game - if your opponent scores 51, you lose.
You're a forward, but in a pinch you've shown the ability to bring the ball down the court. Is that something you had to work on?
I've worked on that over the years. Playing in [the Amateur Athletic Union] during the off-season, I've played more on the wing … and definitely have tried to improve my skills as a three player. That really helps, both in AAU and with my high school team.
You and [center] Ryann Dannelly make up one of the top frontcourt tandems in the state. Do you feel you benefit by playing together?
Yeah, sometimes we joke that if I shoot and it doesn't hit anything, that it's really a pass. She'll put it back up for me, or she'll miss and I'll put it back up. It's definitely helpful, because you need two post players. If you just have one in there, then the defense can really collapse. But if they collapse on me, then I can swing it over to Ryann or someone on the outside. We're still working on connecting with those high-low passes.
Do you feel that, when the two of you are on your games, no one can match up with you inside?
I'm not going to say that we're unstoppable or anything like that, but when we're both on, it's awesome. If we start drawing the defense toward us, then we can free up our wing players, and we have some really good shooters.
Is there any one skill you feel you need to improve on to make it at the collegiate level?
I think that I'm probably going to have to work even more on my perimeter game. I'm not going to be that big compared to other people at the next level. It will just be really important to play outside, as well as inside.
Was it a difficult decision to settle on Yale for college?
Well, I did have some other schools, but really just visiting there, I knew it was the right fit. It was just such an awesome place that I had no doubt I wanted to be there.
Any idea yet what you'd like to study?
I think I'd like to go the pre-med track.
Have you always had an interest in medicine?
I've always sort of wanted to be a doctor. Hopefully, I'll be able to follow that dream at Yale.