Nicea Eliely has always been a skilled basketball player, but it wasn't until this season that she's truly been able to shine in a starring role.
The Rampart senior has been a big part of the Rams winning the 5A Metro Conference championship the past two seasons, but this year her role has expanded quite a bit.
"Nicea is the most humble kid I've ever been around with the talent she has," Rampart coach Ashley Miller said. "She didn't really realize how good she was until before this season. She's easy to communicate with, and we can put her in any spot on the court and she's always aggressive."
Eliely posted a solid 16 points and four rebounds per game last season, helping the Rams to a 12-0 5A Metro record and first-round win in the state playoffs.
With sharp shooting guard Cassidy Budge graduating, Eliely knew she would have to lead the team this season. She's averaging 20 points and eight rebounds, and last week posted 21 points and eight rebounds in a 43-39 loss to Doherty, and then had 25 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks in a win over Palmer.
"I had to become more of a leader, which means passing less and being more aggressive," Eliely said. "I was ready to be a leader from my high school experience, and from playing club ball. I had to be a lot more selfish than I used to, which was hard because I was used to passing more."
Eliely has scored in double figures every game this season, as Rampart is out to a 10-3 start. She's been paramount to the team's success, scoring 44 percent of the Rams' points.
Eliely's work ethic and talent didn't go unnoticed at the college level. Even before her breakout campaign this season, she committed to play at Nebraska after her junior year.
"Her attitude this season has been great," Miller said. "A lot of seniors commit early to colleges, and then they check out. That hasn't been the case with Nicea; she's been committed to this program since the first day she walked into Rampart, and since our preseason started she's been 100 percent committed and leads by example on and off the court."
Miller says Eliely's versatility is what makes her such a dangerous weapon, and is what will help her succeed at the college level.
"Nebraska wanted me to become more aggressive and be the primary scorer and to keep improving my game before I got there," Eliely said. "But I also wanted to improve the person I am, and working harder is something that's in my personality. This season, it was time to show them why they gave me a scholarship."
The Cornhusker coaching staff must be thrilled with what they've seen. Although Eliely is only about 6 feet tall, she plays much bigger than that.
Before she heads off to Lincoln in the fall, Eliely and the Rams have a few goals in mind - namely winning a third 5A Metro title and playing in the state tournament.
"Winning league again would be awesome, and we have the talent to do it," she said.
"It won't be easy, but we're learning to play as a team better. The mentality I have is to work and play hard for the name on the front of the jersey."
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