Getting To Know Illini Guard Aaliyah Nye

By W. Elijah Smith -- IlliniGuys Contributor

December 28, 2021

Sophomore guard Aaliyah Nye has been one of the key players on the Women’s Fighting Illini team. The 5’11 guard grew up in Huntsville, Alabama before moving to East Lansing, Michigan with her mother and two sisters. In 2020, she was the runner up for Michigan’s Ms. Basketball playing for East Lansing High School. In her senior year, she led the East Lansing Trojans to a 23-1 record and averaged 16.1 points and 5.2 rebounds a game in her COVID-shortened season. 

In her freshman year at Illinois, she led the team in three-point shooting (.351) cashing in on 27 of 77 attempts from three. Although she missed five games due to injury, she played 18 games. Nye started the final 10 games of the season, averaging 8.1 points and 2.2 rebounds a game.  This season, she’s upped those averages to 11.3 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. 

When it comes to preparation for this season, instead of perfecting on her strong suits, Nye has tried to work on some other aspects to expand her game. “This season, I knew people knew what I do,” said Nye, “I shoot. So something I tried to prepare for is expanding my game like trying to drive more or pull up jumpers.  So yes, I can shoot the ball but I can also do a lot of other things.”

Nye is also a proud tribal citizen of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish band of Pottawatomi Indians. She started learning about her culture at an early age and would attend special camps that taught of the tribe’s history. “I’m so grateful to have the tribe in my life,” said Nye in a 2020 interview with Sean McDevitt of FightingIllini.com.

The Illini have had a hard start to the 2021-22 season, starting out 5-7 and losing their Big Ten opener. This doesn’t shake Nye’s confidence in her team.

“I think we’re competitors,” said Nye, “I think we're really connected this year. We're more like sisters, that's why we have that sisterhood theme or motto this year. We really just connect and we try to push each other, we all get in the gym. We want to win; it just has a different feel to it I would say.”

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