Alyssa Perez was coming off stellar careers with Marana High School and Pima College and was looking to keep playing basketball after signing with Rocky Mountain College in April.
That plan has changed. Her desire to earn her psychology degree and work with a Division I program as a student manager — not to mention her love for Las Vegas since she was young — means she now lives in Las Vegas and attends UNLV.
“When Covid happened I got a taste of more freedom and little bit of life,” Perez mentioned. “I got a job and started making money, spent lots of time with family and friends and getting in the gym just wasn’t a priority like it used to be. When I got in the gym I just didn’t have that same drive and energy to get better.
“I was always taught that if you’re going to do something, make sure you do it at 110 percent or else you’re just wasting everyone’s time, so I think it would be highly unfair to coaches and other players to commit to a program with the wrong mindset.”
“I’m very proud of her decision,” said Pima coach Todd Holthaus, who while he was an assistant under Joan Bonvicini at Arizona tried to recruit Lindy La Rocque, UNLV’s recently hired coach.
Perez will be a manager for La Rocque, who was a standout at Stanford and was an assistant at her alma mater under Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer before she was hired by UNLV in March.
“I still love the game and my goal is to be a coach in the future after school so that is where I looked into managing and Coach La Rocque has given me an opportunity and I am extremely excited to see the game from a different perspective,” Perez stated.
Two Arizona connections involved with La Rocque: The UNLV athletic director who hired her — Desiree Reed-Francois — is an Arizona Law School graduate and La Rocque was the first and only girl to attend Lute Olson’s Elite Basketball Camp at McKale Center when she was growing up in Las Vegas.
“Congratulations to UNLV for hiring a young and energetic coach in Lindy La Rocque to head their women’s basketball program,” Olson stated in a UNLV press release. “I have known Lindy since she was born. I have always followed her career as a player and as a coach. Lindy is a student of the game and I predict much success in her coaching career.”
Perez, a 5-foot-7 guard, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Arizona Community College Athletic Association (ACCAC) Region I finals in March when the Aztecs defeated rival Mesa.
She was also an All-ACCAC selection for the Aztecs, who finished 25-7 and were ready to compete in the national tournament before COVID-19 forced its cancellation.
She is the daughter of Marana girls basketball coach Tory Perez.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.