Editor’s note: This is the second in a five-part series previewing the top five girls basketball players in the Class of 2023. The series counts down to No. 1 and aligns with the start of the 2022-23 high school season. Click here to see the latest rankings from the Class of 2023. Counting down: No. 5 Hannah Hidalgo | No. 4 Aalyah Del Rosario | No. 3 Jadyn Donovan | No. 2 Juju Watkins | No. 1 Mikaylah Williams.
There’s a common misconception in basketball that bigs are one-dimensional. That they’re effective in the post but limited to it. That they’re slower than most and don’t have the handles to take defenders one-on-one.
Perhaps that’s why everyone loves a big guard — it’s exciting to see a player defy the norm.
Aalyah Del Rosario, whose game has notes of Candace Parker’s, is high school basketball’s best reminder of what a post player can be with her strong court vision, elite rebounding abilities and calm confidence when double- or even triple-teamed.
After spending two years at Trenton Catholic (N.J.), it didn’t take long for Del Rosario to transition to a successful career at The Webb School (Tenn.).
She’s averaged double figures in each of her three high school seasons thus far. As a junior last year, she helped lead Webb to a state championship while collecting regional MVP honors, earning a selection to the all-tournament team and being named a 2022 TSSAA Division II-A Miss Basketball finalist.
This season, Del Rosario and her Webb teammates have the opportunity to earn back-to-back-to-back state titles under head coach Matt Shewmake.
“Aalyah is a generational-type player,” Shewmake said. “She’s 6-foot-6, she moves well, she’s all the tangible measurables that any college coach or professional coach is going to get excited about. Nobody has one of her.
“She requires a lot of defensive attention and has earned that.”
Webb’s roster boasts multiple Power 5 commits. There’s no shortage of talent, which has fostered a mutual understanding that, in some games, others might shine brighter. Del Rosario is more than capable of dropping a 20- or 30-piece, but her enthusiasm for sharing the success is indicative of both her character and her ability to thrive at the next level.
“Aalyah’s got a great team around her,” Shewmake said. “She can really find some comfort and confidence in that. She’s completely bought into that, into understanding that she’s got great players around her that pick up the load, and she hopes that they double her because that means one of her very talented teammates is wide open.”
The coaching staff recognizes Del Rosario as a source of stability for Webb.
“She’s a great person. She’s a great teammate,” Shewmake said. “Her teammates love her, no distractions there. She is what she is. She’s solid every day — the same person, the same smile, always giving out hugs.
“She’s an easy teammate to have and an easy person to coach.”
Del Rosario is the newest member of LSU’s 2023 recruiting class. She chose the Tigers on Oct. 25 over North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. In Baton Rouge, she’ll develop under head coach Kim Mulkey, who has recruited and produced 11 first-round WNBA Draft picks.
Webb will also send starting point guard Angelica Velez to LSU next year.
“That’s a win-win there,” Shewmake said. “Kim’s getting a very talented player, and Aalyah’s getting to be coached by one of the most talented and most successful coaches in the history of our game who’s developed pros, who’s developed post players, whether it was Lauren Cox, or Kalani Brown or [Brittney] Griner. There’s a long list of post players that have gone to Kim Mulkey and gotten better and went on to have fruitful professional careers.
“If Aalyah will put in the work and be coached and submit to being coached by Kim, which I have no reason to think that she wouldn’t, she’ll be another one on that list.”
100% Committed…LSU BOUND! #GeauxTigers🐯 🎥 @MovingPictureny pic.twitter.com/F2gyP1R7VZ— Aalyah Del Rosario (@del_aalyah) October 25, 2022
100% Committed…LSU BOUND! #GeauxTigers🐯 🎥 @MovingPictureny pic.twitter.com/F2gyP1R7VZ
LSU is assembling one of the nation’s top recruiting classes in the 2023 cycle. Del Rosario is the second top-10 recruit in the Tigers’ class, following the commitment of No. 1 overall recruit Mikaylah Williams. Also committed are Velez and wing Janae Kent, the top prospect in Illinois.
Over the summer, Del Rosario, who has dual-citizenship in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, won gold with the United States U18 national team. Across six games in the tournament, she averaged 7.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks.
At the end of October, she signed with SIG Sports and agent Boris Lelchitski, who represents more than 30 WNBA players and Olympians.
Caroline Makauskas is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers a variety of sports on her TikTok @cmakauskas. Follow her on Twitter @cmakauskas.