Meet valuable women’s basketball player Alona Blackwell


Maggie Willard

Alona Blackwell guards an opposing player against Wright State on Jan. 13.

Alona Blackwell may not stuff the stat sheets, or make the highlight-reel plays, but every good basketball team needs a player like her. Whatever role the team asks her to play, whether it be off the bench or in the starting lineup, Blackwell can be trusted to produce quality minutes in her time on the floor. 

Blackwell, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, attended East Kentwood High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a junior, Blackwell helped lead the team to a perfect 20-0 regular season, and a state runner-up finish. She averaged 17.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game in her junior year. 

In her senior season, Blackwell was selected as First-Team All-State, and was a McDonald’s All-American nominee. She finished her career as the school’s all-time 3-point leader with a staggering 253 made 3-pointers throughout her time in high school. Blackwell accumulated 1204 career points in her time with East Kentwood.

All in all, it was a very decorated high school career for the talented guard, but the journey was not over. As the transition from high school to college crept closer and closer, Blackwell ultimately decided to achieve her lifelong dream of playing Division I basketball by committing to Oakland University.

“[Coach] Tungate was really cool,” Blackwell said on why she chose Oakland. “He would always come to my games and I just liked the environment and the team culture.”

In her freshman season in a Grizzlies uniform, Blackwell made an immediate impact. She was selected to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team, and scored in double figures 12 times in her first season with the team. 

“Coming in as a freshman I was known as just a shooter, and really that was kinda it like I didn’t do much else but shoot, but now I’m doing more rebounding, playing more defense, and attacking the basket more,” said Blackwell. “I’ve added a lot of different aspects to my game to help the team.”

As a sophomore, Blackwell improved even more, starting in 23 of the team’s 24 games last season. She averaged 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in 31 minutes per game in her second season at Oakland.

Now, as a junior, Blackwell is leading the team in ways that might not always show up on the stat sheet. She is averaging 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, but when the team needed her most against Purdue Fort Wayne, she stepped up.

Down two with just 1:28 to go in a road matchup against the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons, Blackwell sunk a clutch 3-point shot to give the Grizzlies the lead as the game was nearing an end. Then, on the ensuing possession, Blackwell made another jumper to give Oakland full control of the game with just 43 seconds to play. The Grizzlies would go on to win the game, led by Blackwell’s valiant effort. 

“I just had to be ready to knock the shot down, and the layup,” Blackwell said. “My teammates all believe in me and the coaching staff, so I just needed that confidence just to knock it down, like I wasn’t making a lot of shots during the game, but I just had to be locked in to knock that one down so we could win.”

Blackwell will continue to make an impact on and off the floor, with her play and with her leadership as the team heads into a crucial stretch of the season which will have huge Horizon League Tournament seeding implications.

“Keep holding that same dog mentality,” Blackwell said. “Continuing to build my confidence and do different things to help the team win.”