ELKO — There is no quit in Alexis Elquist; she simply took a break.
While the word “quit” is part of her name, a well-placed “s” and her passion for basketball would not allow her to walk away from the sport for good.
Elquist, a 2019 graduate of Elko High School, took a year off from hoops during her freshman season at the University of Nevada; however, she couldn’t stay away — landing a spot on the roster as a walk-on sophomore.
She is listed as a freshman on the roster, still clutching four years of eligibility.
Midway through the second half of Nevada’s season as a freshman, Elquist became a manager for Nevada’s women’s basketball team.
“When I graduated, I felt like I should have tried getting recruited or kept playing basketball in college,” she said. “I talked to Dig (Alice Digenan) and she told me I should ‘do what I wanted.’”
Elquist did some drills with Nevada’s team during her freshman year; though what she could participate in was limited due to “restrictions as manager.”
“I reached out through email initially, so they had my GPA and my stats,” Elquist said. “I was supposed to go through spring workouts, but that didn’t happen because of coronavirus. I didn’t actually have to try out. They had seen me play some and — in the summer — they decided to put me on the roster. It was their decision to let me be on the team.”
On Sept. 16, 2020, the NCAA Division I Council approved a start date for the college basketball men’s and women’s 2020-2021 seasons for Nov. 25, 2020.
“I’m really excited, but I know I probably won’t see the floor or get much playing time this year,” she said. “As a walk-on and being away from the game for a year, I am in catchup mode. Coming from Elko, there are things I’ve never learned and that are totally new to me.”
She has been in Reno since the end of June, participating in lifting sessions and skills drills.
In the last month, Nevada has increased its practices after being limited due to hour restrictions.
“I’m glad I will get to experience this and have the chance to do it. I have so much room to grow, and I know I can get to a place where I’m good enough to help the team,” Elquist said. “I’m already a lot stronger than I used to be in high school.”
Elquist said the Nevada coaching staff does not have a set position for her to play, but she has been focused primarily on “post work.”
“They have definitely liked my ability to shoot the ball, especially for a post,” she said. “I want to get to a place where I’m in basketball shape and feel confident again with my abilities, especially against college athletes. I’m not on that level yet, I’m still a walk-on.”
As for academics, Elquist is studying electrical engineering — minoring in renewable energy — looking for a job that has “something to do with renewable energy.”
“I’m open to going beyond a bachelor’s degree, but there are a lot of opportunities in the field around Reno and Fernley,” she said. “GIGA (Energy) and Tesla are definitely relevant.”
All of her classes but one lab are currently online, and she lives off campus with her cousin, Dorsey Naveran, who was a fine basketball player in his own regard for Lowry High School — also graduating in 2019 — earning First-Team All-League and Second-Team All-State selections as a senior.
At Nevada, Elquist will be teamed with a former foe, Fallon’s Leta Otuafi, who spent her freshman season at Utah State Eastern, in Price, and averaged 13 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals for the Lady Eagles.
Due to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s announcement of Emergency Directive 033 on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 — which adjusted the previous limitation on gatherings from 50 people to 250 people or 50 percent of occupancy, whichever is less, the University of Nevada may have fans for home games after all.
No information, however, has been released on the school’s plans for spectators of home contests.
“I want to get to the point where I’m contributing to the team,” she said. “I’m in a new system, so I want to learn everything we run. I need to improve my ball handling, and I want to improve my defense and be productive on offense.”
In a few years, she hopes to a main contributor.
“I just have to keep working, keep getting stronger,” she said. “I have a long way to go, but I know I can get there.”
Congratulations to Alexis Elquist on making a comeback, her commitment to pursue and live out a dream, her willingness to bet on herself and improve and grow as a player.
High School Career
Elquist closed her final season in maroon and white with a 2nd-Team All-State selection – also named a 1st-Team All-League player for the first time.
Elquist put the ball in the bucket with regularity, ranking third in the league in scoring at 13.7 points per contest – including a season-high 24 against Sparks on Dec. 15, 2018, at Centennial Gymnasium – reaching double figures in an incredible 20 of 25 ballgames, scoring 20 or more five times.
On the other end of the floor, she used her length and timing – finishing second in the league with 39 blocks and 1.6 swats per game – sending a season-high five shots back to their senders in a 66-60 loss to Truckee on Feb. 9, 2019, at Centennial.
She swatted three or more shots seven times and recorded 11 multi-block parties.
Elquist’s size also allowed her to put in stellar work on the glass, snagging 6.8 rebounds per game, the seventh-best total in the 3A North.
She collected a season-best 14 boards (nine offensive) to along with her season-high 24 points in the first meeting with the Lady Railroaders, Elquist finishing with double-digit rebounds in eight games – tying for second in the league with seven double-doubles.
Moving from the block to beyond the arc, she finished third in the league with 42 3s and buried a season-best five bombs in two ballgames – coming in Elko’s league and home opener against Fernley on Dec. 14, 2018, and versus Burley on Dec. 28. 2018, in Jerome, Idaho.
At the line, Elquist tied for the league high with a 76-percent stroke – sinking 50 of 66 free throws – ranking 11th in makes at the stripe.
Elquist also sank two-pointers, ranking fourth in the league with 120 field goals.
Besides making shots, she too set up her teammates for buckets – tying for fourth in the 3A North with 2.3 assists per game – dishing a season-high eight dimes on Jan. 26, 2019, in Fernley, making three assists or more nine times.
She tied for 12th in the league with 2.4 steals per game – including six swipes on three occasions – making three thefts or more in eight contests.
Elquist closed her junior year as just one of eight players in the league to average double figures, finishing seventh in the 3A North and leading Elko with 10.2 points per game.
In 12 contests, she scored in double digits – surpassing 20 points twice – dropping a season-high 23 points on Feb. 9, 2918, at Lowry, and pouring in 22 points on Jan. 26, 2018, against South Tahoe, at Centennial Gymnasium.
She also finished second on the team in rebounds, grabbing 6.1 rebounds per contest – also seventh in the league in the category – snatching double-digit rebounds in six ballgames, finishing with a double-double in each contest.
She grabbed a season-best 13 rebounds on Dec. 8, 2017, in Fernley.
Not only was Elquist Elko’s top scorer, she was also one of the Lady Indians’ best distributors – finishing second on the team with 2.3 assists per game.
Fernley was fully aware of her passing ability, as the Lady Vaqueros saw Elquist dish her season high of seven dimes in each meeting during the regular season.
Elquist’s line against the No. 4 seed was incredible – stuffing the stat sheet in each regular-season matchup against the Lady Vaqueros – going for 15 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, a season-best six blocks and a steal in Fernley.
She racked up a stellar 13 points, 12 boards, seven dimes and three steals against Fernley on Jan. 19, 2018, in Elko.
Her length also created problems for opposing offenses – blocking 1.3 shots and making 1.3 steals per contest – coming away with two or more steals in 10 games, snagging three takeaways in six contests.
Elquist can shoot the basketball proficiently from anywhere in Elko’s offense, leading the Lady Indians with 22 3s with a 31-percent clip from distance and knocking down 79 percent of her attempts from the free-throw line.
She splashed three triples in Elko’s league opener at Fernley, matching the number from deep on Feb. 3, 2018, at Truckee.
In her first full season of varsity action, Elquist gave the Lady Indians and the Elko community a positive feeling for the future – notching a 2nd-Team All-North selection.
Despite her youth and inexperience at a higher level, Elquist possessed uncanny abilities – soft hands, length from her 5-foot-11 frame, rebounding skill and the knack to flat-out shoot the basketball.
She finished second on the team in scoring, ripping off double digits at 11.2 points per game.
Elquist led the Lady Indians at seven boards per contest, finishing third in the league – despite playing the majority of the time from the wing.
She led the Lady Indians from the free-throw line, knocking down 79 percent of her shots from the stripe.
Elquist fired at a 37-percent clip from beyond the arc and led Elko with a 45-percent mark from the floor, possessing a unique shooter’s touch.
As the season progressed, Elquist became more comfortable with putting the ball on the deck and driving to the bucket – providing moments of sheer brilliance in the open floor by breaking her defender down for her own bucket or setting up her teammates in transition.
She also generally triggered Elko’s inbound plays.
Her long arms and ability to close and rotate on defense allowed Elquist to finish third in the 3A North in blocked shots, averaging one per contest and adding two steals per game.
Elquist scored a season-high 21 points and came away with a season-best eight steals against Sparks on Dec. 10, 2016, at Centennial Gymnasium, and she grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds on Jan. 10, 2017, at Centennial, against Spring Creek – yanking down double-digit boards in five contests and finishing with four double-doubles.
Her season high of five assists came on Jan. 20, 2017, at Centennial, against Dayton, dropping five dimes on the Lady Dust Devils.
GALLERY: Alexis Elquist