Alyssa Neumann, a Ridgetop seventh grader, was named to the inaugural Blue Star national All-Star basketball game this summer
SILVERDALE — A 30-point game earned Alyssa Neumann something pretty special from her parents.
A Golden Retriever puppy named Lola.
Truth be told, Neumann didn’t need to be coaxed into playing any harder than she does. It’s nearly impossible to get the Ridgetop Middle School seventh grader off the court on a normal day, but with the added incentive of a new dog on the line, Neumann’s stellar performance brought a new member into the family.
Neumann’s abilities on the court haven’t gone unnoticed on a much bigger stage than Kitsap county’s middle school ranks. Neumann was invited to participate in the first Blue Star Saturday National All-Star basketball game.
The event was originally scheduled to take place during the NCAA Women’s Final Four, but has been postponed until June in New Orleans.
“I think it’s just a cool opportunity to play with a bunch of equally (talented) players,” Neumann said. “It’s a confidence boost in how I play.”
Neumann will find herself playing against some of the top talent in the nation and in front of scouts and others such as Kevin Lynch of USA Basketball, Dan Olson of ESPN/College Girls’ Basketball Report and multiple McDonald’s All-American voters.
Neumann was invited based on her participation with her select team, Northwest Magic out of Tacoma and coach Vanessa McClendon, in Rising Blue Star Camps and Blue Star Combines last fall.
McClendon said Neumann’s potential has her on the path of a Division I recruit by the time she leaves high school. She’s already been tabbed as one of the top seventh graders in the area.
“It’s just her growth, every month it separates her,” McClendon said. “She’ll be high-level DI. You can mark my words on that.”
Neumann travels to Tacoma two or three times a week to practice with the Magic. After about two years with the Magic, Neumann is used to the demanding schedule and hopes the hard work will pay off with a college scholarship by her senior season. The 5-foot-11 Neumann averages 17 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, six steals and two blocks a game for her middle school team, which went 7-2 during its season.
“I don’t know when I knew or how but I always wanted to keep playing and (to) play in college and the WNBA sounds really cool to me,” Neumann said.
Neumann comes by her love of basketball naturally. Her father, Scott Neumann, varsity is the girls basketball at Central Kitsap High School, where older sister Alexandra played for the Cougars. Alyssa can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a basketball in her hands and enjoys being a ‘go-to’ player in crunch time but also enjoys getting the ball to her teammates.
“I was always playing and always loved playing it,” she said.
Her love of the game flourished when she began playing with NW Magic and her in-game situational awareness has grown dramatically.
“I know when sometimes, depending on the team I’m on, I know when I have to score and get points,” Neumann said.
Neumann’s exposure to high school practices and players has elevated her basketball IQ, as well as the time Alyssa spends watch gamefilm, McClendon said.
“She passes the eye test but then you watch her play … she could play the one through five,” McClendon said, adding it won’t be long until Neumann is on her top team as a 16-year-old. “She’ll just be ready.”