On her left bicep, Antelia Parrish has a tattoo of a basketball smashing through a glass backboard. Her arrival in Foggy Bottom has come with less broken glass but her impact has been just as powerful.
Through three games, Parrish leads GW in scoring, rebounding and steals, and entering the Rutgers matchup found herself in the top five of the Atlantic 10 in the same categories. What’s her secret? She doesn’t really have one.
“I’m real competitive in whatever I do,” Parrish said. “I’ve been playing ball ever since I was a little kid, so that’s just something I love to do.”
No matter how Parrish does it, there is no question that she gets the job done. She is averaging 15.8 points per game as a double threat – the combination of her smooth outside shot and tenacious play in the low post makes her particularly difficult to guard.
“Since I’m new, Coach gives me a lot of room to be the player that I am,” Parrish said. “A lot of times other teams have a hard time matching up with me, because I am kind of a big guard, so I can post up and I can come outside and play on the wing.”
But the 6-foot guard/forward does more than just put the ball in the basket. Parrish has pulled down more almost 9.5 rebounds per game with her lengthy wingspan and desire for the ball. She also has her own set of ball-handling skills. The Washington native grew up playing street ball, which taught her a lot about ball handling.
Parrish played under now-GW assistant coach Mike Bozeman at Bishop McNamara High School, which had been ranked the top high school team in the country by The Washington Post. She was twice named a Washington all-metro first team selection and Bozeman said Parrish has always been a top player.
“She’s special, no doubt about it,” Bozeman said. “We had a very good high school team. We had a lot of talented players on the squad, and she was probably, all the way around, pound for pound, the best player on the team.”
But Bozeman knows Parrish as more than just one of his basketball players. He began as Parrish’s mentor when she was 11 or 12 and months before Parrish began at Bishop McNamara, she moved in with Bozeman and his family.
Parrish said Bozeman became like a father figure and the bond is equally as strong from Bozeman’s side.
“She’s just like another one of my daughters,” he said.
Parrish originally planned to follow Bozeman to Fordham University when he took a job there, but issues with her GPA forced her to change her plans. After declining Fordham’s request to attend prep school, Parrish enrolled in Central Florida Community College for a semester and then returned to the Washington area to attend Prince George’s Community College, where Parrish was second in the nation in both scoring and rebounding. She said when Bozeman secured his assistant coaching job at GW, Parrish knew that Foggy Bottom was where she wanted to be.
“I had committed to going to Georgetown,” she said. “Then he got the coaching job here, so I changed my mind. I knew I wanted to be with him.”
And now that she is here, the Colonials have yet another threat to add to an already talented squad. Head coach Joe McKeown, who referred to Parrish as his “secret weapon” before the season began, said that even though he knew Parrish was gifted with talent, he has been surprised with her ability to keep cool during close games.
“She has just really impressed me with her poise,” McKeown said. “I knew she had talent, because I have her in practice everyday. But you never know until you get in game conditions how a player is going to respond.”
McKeown added that it was Parrish’s ability to handle pressure in GW’s road games that has most caught his attention, but he is not the only one to notice.
“I’m aware of it,” Parrish said of the focus she’s receiving. “At the same time, I try not to pay attention to it. This is a team sport and I’m still a team player, so I would never want the attention to be solely on me.”
Parrish said her goal is to help the Colonials build on their Sweet 16 appearance from a year ago, but to do that, she plans to keep things simple.
“There’s really nothing to it for me,” she said. “Like I said, I love to play basketball, so just to be out there and just to play in the competitive atmosphere, that’s what I love about it.”