Gida looks forward to chance to play for So. Oregon

Allison Gida is excited about playing basketball in Ashland again. Then again, she's excited about playing basketball again, period.

The former Ashland High prep hoops star has spent the last two years mostly keeping the bench warm at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Pacific-12 Conference. Battling chronic ankle pain, Gida played about three minutes a game as a freshman and not much more — 6.7 minutes per game — as a sophomore, spurring her decision to transfer to Southern Oregon University.

Gida underwent surgery in April to correct what she described as stretched ligaments and early onset arthritis in her right ankle, and now is looking forward to joining the NAIA Division II Raiders once she's cleared for basketball-related activity. Gida expects to be on the court again by mid-July.

"I'm excited," said Gida, 20, who graduated from AHS in 2010 after winning her second Southern Sky Conference player of the year award. "I feel like I haven't played for a while and this will be fun. I get to see people I recognize and play with people I know, and I hear the college experience (at SOU) is way different than growing up in Ashland."

A gifted all-around athlete who also was a state tournament MVP in water polo, Gida dominated on the basketball court for the Grizzlies before committing to Utah as a junior. She was even better as a senior, leading the eventual fifth-place Grizzlies in points (18.1), rebounds (9.2), steals (6.1) and assists (4.4).

But the silky-smooth 5-foot-11 ball handler with a knack for getting to the basket never found her niche at Utah. She played in nine of 35 games her freshman year, making one field goal on eight attempts, then played in 12 games the following year, hitting 2 of 16 field goal attempts and 7 of 8 free throws in 80 minutes of action.

"I think some of it was because of my ankle," she said. It was restraining me from things I wanted to do but couldn't."

But she still wanted a chance to see what she could do. Early on in her sophomore campaign she began to feel as though that chance may never come.

"I was thinking about transferring around Christmas time," she said. "I wasn't sure where I wanted to go, I just knew that I wasn't happy at Utah.

"Playing time was kind of the main reason. I enjoyed the team and the Pac-12 and all that comes with Utah, but just the basketball part of it was kind of hard for me and that's the part I love the most. I didn't want to lose the joy of it."

It was a connection from her past plus a little court time that helped draw Gida back to Ashland. One of Gida's former Ashland High teammates, Josi McDermott, had transferred from Utah to SOU for her final two years of eligibility and vouched for the program. Also, Gida met a few SOU players last spring during open gym practices and liked the chemistry.

"(McDermott) kind of had the same situation that I did, so she was able to give me good input on what was happening at SOU," Gida said.

Gida said she made the final decision right before the surgery, but kept it to herself.

Now, the sociology major is looking forward to contributing again on the basketball court. She believes her versatility could be a major asset for the Raiders.

"I just want to train really hard and get into good shape and have fun at SOU," she said. "And make lots of friends."

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