Basketball is a family affair

For JDHS guard Talisa Rhea and her family, sports brings everyone together

Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2006

Most people might think it strange to find a jar of sand sitting in the mailbox.

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In the household of Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball standout Talisa Rhea, however, it's just another day.

"I guess it's from a Hawaii beach." Talisa's father Ken assumes, smiling.

Turns out the sand is just a cute recruiting idea sent by the University of Hawaii.

A member of the defending Class 4A state champion Crimson Bears (21-3), the junior point guard is considered one of Alaska's top basketball players.

With that notoriety has come attention from universities.

"We see all sorts of recruitment ploys," Ken Rhea said.

Too modest to admit just which schools have expressed interest, mother Barbara said, "Some Pac-10 schools, some Ivy League schools, some more from California."

Ken quickly added, "Our goal is simply (NCAA) Division I right now, but we haven't figured out which one yet."

Talisa said, "Honestly, I'm not sure where I'll go yet, but academics will definitely play a role in the decision."

Fortunately, the Rhea family - Ken, Barbara and 10-year-old brother Jaren - are well prepared for the sporting world's onslaught.

Talisa Rhea, last season's Anchorage Daily News / Alaska Media All-State Team player of the year, currently leads Juneau-Douglas in scoring at 18.1 points per game. She also ranks first on the team in rebounding, assists and blocked shots.

For Rhea and her family, sports serves as a healthy glue than binds them together.

Sports, basketball in particular, has been in the family's blood since the start.

Talisa's parents, Barbara and Ken, first met each other at a basketball game where Ken served as a referee and Barbara worked as a scorekeeper.

"Our family is definitely into sports," Barbara said. "I was brought up with sports and so was Ken. We always knew sports would be important in out lives."

Talisa started absorbing her parent's love of sports by watching her father officiate games as a toddler.

By the time she was 4-years-old, a basketball was already in her hands on a regular basis. When young Talisa wasn't playing hoops, she played catch around the house with Ken.

"Basketball was what I did all the time," Talisa said. "Along with some other sports."

Talisa also got a healthy dose of soccer, softball, volleyball, and even jump rope along the way.

Today, given her nearly year-round basketball schedule, she has little time for other sports.

"I probably play (basketball) everyday. Everyday I do something related to basketball." Talisa said. "The main thing that helps me is simply to keep playing. Whether it's playing in tournament games or at the high school's open gym."

During the summer she plays with Alaska's Amateur Athletic Union team, which keeps her occupied and often away for most of the summer.

"Yeah, I really don't have time to do a whole lot else, but it's something I enjoy doing," Talisa said.

Ken Rhea added, "She's very driven. She always excelled in all the sports she played. She worked very hard, both in sports and academically."

Her insatiable love of the game has already led her to squeeze in the time to coach local seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls basketball teams.

"It's a great experience to coach, plus it kind of makes you realize what your coach puts up with," she said smiling.

"I think no matter what I do, I want to stay involved in basketball whether it be playing or coaching."

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