Ipswich Basketball Club's Esther Little hoping to sign off with silverware ahead of USA move
After signing her US scholarship at West Coast Conference champions Gonzaga University, Esther Little is determined to end her time with Ipswich on the ultimate high.
The Ixworth-raised 19-year-old forward, who has represented Great Britian up to U18 level, was highly sought after by a large amount of top NCCA Division One schools.
But it was Washington-based Gonzaga who the former Thurston Community College pupil only ever truly had eyes for.
Little, who captained Ipswich to the U18 National Cup last February, and won an historic treble with in 2018, said: “I got a lot of emails and text messages and it was a bit overwhelming but what Gonzaga had over everyone else was the amount of effort they put into me and the relationship I developed with the coaches.”
After verbally committing in March following a September visit, she finally got to sign her paperwork in November, having decided to defer her place to do a third year at Ipswich Basketball Academy, based at Copleston High School.
There was still the hurdle of having to up one of her GCSE grades with her top one, in PE, not recognised by the American college system.
But a new Grade 6 in English (equivalent to an old B), which she got confirmation of last week, has cemented her place at Gonzaga, where she is interested in majoring in early years education.
“I got a 6 and I could have got a 5, so I was really happy about that and so I am all set and ready to go,” she said, with her first semester due to start in September.
“When you verbally commit it is basically 100 per cent as hardly anyone in college basketball doesn’t go forward with it but signing the paper just gives you that extra bit of reassurance and makes it real.”
Now her eyes are firmly fixed on wrapping up the WNBL Division One title with Ipswich to complete some unfinished business, as well as gifting herself the perfect leaving present.
“Yes, that is definitely the aim,” she said. “Especially because last year obviously we didn’t get to finish our season so we were basically given the title and that’s not how we want to do it. We want to earn it and prove to people we are deserving of it.”
After a break since mid-December, for testing procedures to be put in place, the league is due to return from next weekend.
Leaders Ipswich are looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the campaign - 78-77 at second-placed Loughborough Riders who moved to within two points of them - when they host Reading Rockets on February 13 (3.30pm).
Having returned to training for the first time last night, Little said: “We all can’t wait to get back on court but obviously safety does come first and if it comes to us having a (longer) break that is what we are going to have to do.”
She added: “It was tough losing to Loughborough but I think it took a lot of pressure off us.
“They celebrated at the end like they had won the league so I think that just shows us how much it means to other teams to beat us.”