BIG CYPRESS — Dreams do come true. Just ask Alena Stockton.
“I’ve wanted to play college basketball ever since I started,” she said. “It’s been a dream.”
Stockton grew up on the Big Cypress Reservation and played high school ball the past two years for the Ahfachkee School. She is ready to take her game to the next level, which she’ll do at Florida SouthWestern State College, which offered her a scholarship.
“It’s good. I couldn’t believe it at first,” she said.
The Fort Myers school built the 3,300-seat Sun Coast Credit Union Arena that sold out its first game in 2016. It didn’t take long for Stockton to appreciate her new home.
“I love the gym,” she said. And that’s not all. She said she likes the dorm rooms, especially because they have kitchens.
FSW has a new head coach. Jerald Ellis, who served as an assistant for the team the past four years, will lead the squad for the 2020-21 season. He is a former head coach in the region, having guided Immokalee and Island Coast high schools.
FSW is coming off a strong season. The Buccaneers, who play in the Suncoast Conference, finished 24-7. They reached the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, but it was canceled due to Covid-19.
FSW scouted Stockton at her senior night game in January. She made a good impression with a game-high 15 points.
“Florida Southwestern came to the game today. I think they liked what they saw,” Ahfachkee coach Jarvis Jones said after the game. “She’s a really solid player. One of the best players I’ve ever worked with. She works hard. She’s a straight-A student which is the best thing I like about her. She’s a student first, great in the classroom, great with her siblings, great with her teammates. She’s awesome.”
Before deciding on FSW, Stockton said she had about a dozen offers from other colleges throughout Florida to consider.
Stockton plans to study sports medicine. She said her goal for basketball is to play two years at FSW and then transfer to a Division I school.
Regardless of what path she takes, she won’t forget her reservation, and the younger players behind her.
“I want to come back and do little camps and tell them to keep pushing in school,” she said.