The Aggie sat down with the UC Davis women’s basketball forward, who was recently named to the all-Big West Conference first team
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
High School: Roseburg HS ‘14
History: Riddle High School, Roseburg High School, three-time all-state selection in basketball
Accolades: 2016- 2017 All-Big West First Team, Big West Player of the Week for Feb. 27, 2015-2016 Big West Conference Honorable Mention, 2015-2016 Big West All-Academic Team
Junior forward Pele Gianotti is a driving force behind the UC Davis women’s basketball team, leading the team — owners of eight straight victories at press time — in scoring. On March 6, Gianotti was named a member of the all-Big West first team. The California Aggie had the chance to sit down with Gianotti to ask about her basketball career so far and what she hopes to achieve as an Aggie and as a player.
How long have you been playing basketball? What got you into the sport?
I’ve been playing it forever, I feel like. You know, you do the YMCA thing, so first grade, maybe? But I didn’t actually start loving it until sixth grade, seventh grade, when I went to a basketball camp and realized, ‘Whoa, this is fun being able to do these different drills and being good at it.’
How did you end up playing at UC Davis? What was the process like?
I played for a club basketball team in Spokane, Washington, and they were pretty good. I just got recruited by [head coach] Jen [Gross] by coming to the tournaments that we all played at. [I] made a couple phone calls, she offered me [a spot on the team]. I had never really heard of [UC] Davis, but as soon as I stepped on campus, I was like, ‘Wow, this is for me. I love it.’ The end.
What is the ultimate goal for you to achieve athletically at UC Davis during your next couple years?
The biggest one for us right now is just to win the Big West Conference Tournament. That’s basically what I’ve been working towards since freshman year. The coaches have been talking about it, how great an experience it is to cut down the nets and that’s all I want for this team.
How do you feel the team is doing right now?
I think we’re doing really well. Our offense is really flowing well. Everybody is super confident and because of that, we’re able to make shots, hit passes, do things that maybe earlier in the year we weren’t able to. Our defense is also helping us out a lot. Other teams aren’t able to score and we are. I think overall, everyone is just super confident.
You were just named the Big West Player of the Week.
I’m feeling pretty happy. I didn’t really expect it. Channon Fluker [of Cal State Northridge] has gotten it like the last three times and she’s been doing really well. I had a good week last week, but overall, our team has just been playing super well. I didn’t really even know I was a contender.
How did you feel about those games against Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara? (In recent games Gianotti shot 12-for-19 overall and 7-for-11 for three pointers. She also made 13-13 of her free throws during that time as well.)
I was just playing and taking what was available to me. The coaches have been saying, ‘Hey, you’re a good player.’ In the beginning of the season, it was touch and go with my shot, but lately I’ve been hitting a couple and realizing that. I’ve just been playing with the team, not doing anything special, just taking what’s available.
How does the team react to your performance this season and the accolades you have received? What is the level of support from them?
Good. Yesterday, Dani [Nafekh] and Morgan [Bertsch] were looking on Instagram because they knew I was a contender [for Player of the Week] and they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re going to get it. You’re going to get it.’ They were super excited for me and the coaches, obviously, are like, ‘congrats!’ but overall, it’s about the team and none of us are better than anyone else, that’s for sure.
You’ve had a lot of success in your basketball career thus far. Do you have plans/desires to continue playing after your time at UC Davis is through? Where would you like to be?
I definitely want to play overseas. I don’t know where, but I also don’t really have any plans for my major, so I’m kind of like, let’s go do this! It’ll be fun. And obviously I love basketball and I love to travel, so that would be my dream.
Written by: Liz Jacobson — firstname.lastname@example.org