Former Ellison grad Gemma Alhambra extended her collegiate basketball career for another three years Friday when she signed her letter of intent to transfer and play for Huston-Tillotson University.
Alhambra played one season at guard for Temple College, which went 16-13 overall and 7-7 in conference play last season.
In her senior year at Ellison she worked out for Huston-Tillotson but decided to stay close to home for her first year of college.
Huston-Tillotson women’s basketball head coach Kendall DuCree lost six seniors at the end of this season after the Lady Rams went 12-10 overall, 12-4 in the Red River Athletic Conference. The team was ranked No. 3 nationally in NAIA Division I in 3-pointers made.
When looking to rebuild his roster, DuCree thought back to Alhambra.
“Last year I felt she had a little room of improvement she could make,” he said. “This year, she really worked on her stuff.
“Her coming in from junior college gives her experience to take on that leadership role right out the door.”
Alhambra played all 29 games for Temple last year and recorded 70 points, 33 defensive rebounds, 46 assists and 12 blocks.
At Ellison, Alhambra was an all-district first-team selection as a senior.
Alhambra also grew up playing three years of club ball with Team Elite and Team Xpress, and was a member of the varsity track team at Ellison for three years.
She didn’t initially plan to transfer out of Temple after one year but when the opportunity to play in Austin came, and having completed enough transferrable units, Alhambra didn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“This school was on the radar, probably my top priority,” Alhambra said. “I always knew I was going to end up going there at the end of the day.
“I’m looking forward to being a better player and just improve myself because coach DuCree has a great basketball program there.”
It wasn’t just the basketball program that drew her, but the chance to finish her degree in biology.
Alhambra’s dedication off the court was another reason DuCree looked to recruit her. She earned all-district academic honors in her final three seasons at Ellison.
“The biggest thing was the grades,” he added. “I really went after those players that were about both the books and the basketball.
“She’s one of those kids who’s after her education and I don’t have to worry about her in the classroom.”
DuCree foresees Alhambra leading the Lady Rams and stepping up for her team wherever she can. “She usually plays the point guard position so we’re looking to turn her into a one-two combo.”