The Griffin Pride
For Deja Ross, basketball begins and ends with family.
Deja Ross '17 wore a blue cap with a white X, marking the spot where she will spend her next four years. During a formal gathering in Parsons Lodge in the fall, the North Providence native signed a National Letter of Intent to play Division I basketball at Xavier University, a member of the Big East Conference. "The Big East is a very competitive league," she said, "and I want to play against the best in the country."
More than fifty family members, friends, coaches, and teammates turned out for the signing. Front and center, beaming from ear to ear, was her mom. "My mother is hands down the most influential person in my life," Ross said. "She motivates me to be my best self. This woman has been my best friend since the day I was born. How lucky is that, to be born with a best friend?"
Now in her third year, the versatile 6-foot guard averaged seventeen points per game, making her one of the great Griffin hoops players to wear the jersey. In addition to her standout basketball career, Ross is a member of the Pomfret volleyball team, which won the NEPSAC Class B Championship last year.
"Deja has an internal drive that sustains and pushes her, and a moral compass that guides her," said her coach, Rebecca Brooks. "She is a rare kid who doesn't derive self-confidence from all the typical teenager stuff. She knows what she likes and what she's good at."
Before landing on the Hilltop, Ross spent two years at the Lincoln School in Providence. She's also spent time playing for Team Providence and the Boston Showstoppers, both members of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a nonprofit sports organization dedicated to the promotion and development of amateur sports in the U.S.
At Xavier, Ross plans to study international business, and cites the campus location as a big reason for choosing the school. "Cincinnati is a business city. It's a great place for me to explore and get internships."
In a press release on the Xavier website, women's basketball coach Brian Neal announced the addition of Ross to his roster during the NCAA's early signing period. "We are pleased to welcome six outstanding young women into our program," Neal said, which included Ross. "Our coaching staff did a great job of identifying players who are talented and have strong character traits. They will be valuable additions to the Xavier family."
Of course, Ross wouldn't want it any other way. "Over the past ten years, my teammates have taught me what it means to be a family," Ross said. "I feel blessed beyond measure for the opportunity to compete and to play for the person next to me."