Rhamat Alhassan of Holy Cross sticking with volleyball for college

May 15, 2013

Holy Cross junior Rhamat Alhassan and her former basketball coach, Eddie Simpson, both say that she is a better basketball player than she is a volleyball player.

So given that assessment, what to make of Alhassan being one of 27 players invited next month to a second tryout for the U.S. girls’ youth national volleyball team at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.?

The 6-foot-5 Alhassan, a second-team all-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference basketball pick last season, already has decided to play volleyball at Florida, choosing the sport in which she is currently less skilled over the sport that she has played much longer.

Rhamat Alhassan
Holy Cross junior Rhamat Alhassan, right, a second-team all-WCAC basketball choice, plans to play volleyball in college. (Photo Richard A. Lipski/For the Washington Post)

“Most people who ask me what sports I play usually ask if I play basketball first,” Alhassan said. “No one ever thinks volleyball [first]. It makes it more of a challenge because I know that I want to work hard to get to the point where I am in basketball.”

So how close are you?

“I’m not really sure I can say,” said Alhassan, one of six middle blockers invited to Colorado Springs after impressing in an initial tryout in North Carolina in March.

Because of Alhassan’s basketball skills, Simpson would like to see her try to play both sports at Florida. Alhassan is considering that but said she “definitely” would choose volleyball, a sport she started playing in high school, over basketball if she plays only one in college. It still feels fresh and new to her. She plans to continue to play basketball at Holy Cross, too.

“Once she gets down there and they realize how good of a basketball player she is, they’ll try to get her to do both and figure out a way to make it happen,” Simpson said. “She’s definitely much better in basketball, but she has the potential to be very good in volleyball with her size. If you demonstrate something to her, she picks it up really quick. She’s like a sponge with basketball.”

Another WCAC post player, St. Mary’s Ryken senior Cydney Smith, recently made a similar choice, opting for volleyball at St. Francis (Pa.) over basketball at several schools.

Alhassan tried out for the national volleyball team last season but did not make the squad. The 12 players picked at the tryouts next month will play in the Federation Internationale De Volleyball Girls’ Youth World Championships in Thailand this summer. The 27 invitees include all 12 players off the 2012 team.

Simpson, who stepped down from his Holy Cross coaching position after last season, saw another of his juniors make a college decision this week when guard-forward Jillian Dunston committed to Michigan.

“I think she’ll fit in very well there seeing that she’s a big guard that rebounds well,” he said. “In the Big Ten, that’s exactly what you need to do as a guard.

“It’s going to probably be a little struggle for her this year [at Holy Cross] because she’s not used to being the star of a team. She plays much better when she’s that third person on a team where people really aren’t focusing on her. I think Michigan will be a great fit for her. They’re going to constantly be getting good players around her and make her game that much better as well.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 3

Riverdale Baptist pitchers who have committed to Maryland this season — seniors Chase Brewis and Ryan Selmer and junior Taylor Bloom.

BREAKFAST LINKS:

McLean senior Andrea Pappas is one of the few female coxswains leading a boys’ boat this season.

Paul VI Catholic junior Patrick McDonald won the WCAC golf title in dramatic fashion and Gonzaga won the team title.

It was a big night for Yorktown’s lacrosse teams. They each won in overtime to advance in the postseason.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:

There are three girls’ lacrosse games pitting ranked teams:

No. 9 Broadneck at No. 5 South River at 5 p.m. in the Maryland 4A/3A East final.

No. 6 Mount Hebron at No. 4 Marriotts Ridge at 5 p.m. in the Maryland 3A/2A South final.

No. 1 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes vs. No. 2 Georgetown Visitation at 5:30 p.m. at Bullis in the ISL AA final.

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