By Dan Vance of Outside the Huddle

Just one week after earning his first Division I offer from the University of Akron, East Noble senior Ali Ali has made a commitment to that program.

Akron made their offer official on August 29 and Ali visited the campus over the weekend.

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From left: Akron coach John Groce, Ali Ali and East Noble coach Ryan Eakins. (Photo Courtesy of Ali Ali)

“[I] was blown away by their facilities, coaching staff, practice and the resources at hand were endless,” he said. “I believe academically and athletically, Akron is the best fit for me for the years to come.”

Ali spent the summer playing for Spiece Indy Heat Red 2019. He received offers from East Mississippi Community College, Eastern Florida, Dodge City Community College, Huntington University, IU East, Davenport University, Missouri Southern State University and the University of Indianapolis over the summer.

But the Division I offer was a game changer for Ali, who was seen by a wealth of coaches with Indy Heat.

“We had plenty of D1, D2, and NAIA coaches watching us all throughout the summer and I believe that if they truly wanted me they would’ve already offered me or shown interest,” Ali said. “Seeing Coach Groce’s faith in me gives me a lot of confidence that their program will benefit in me a great way.”

Ali says that Akron coach John Groce sees him as a two-way wing/guard in the Zips program and likes the East Noble senior’s defense.

“We sat down in his office and he had a development program in line for me, strength wise and on the court,” Ali said. “It’s all up to me and how hard I work coming in as a freshmen and the strides I take throughout that summer/fall.”

Last season, Ali led East Noble to their first outright conference title in 18 seasons while averaging 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Ali was then named to the Indiana Junior All-Star North team.

Ali can now focus on a season ahead with East Noble, who returns the majority of their lineup including both he and junior All-Area prospect Hayden Jones. Ali says he wasn’t sure if he would commit before or after the high school season initially, but making the decision now takes a lot of weight off his shoulders.

“I can be 100% focused in on our team and making it as far as we can in March,” he said.

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