Southwest’s Mott heads to Guilford College
For years, Aja Mott has put in the hard work to be successful.
She has dedicated herself to playing hard-nosed, stifling defense throughout her basketball career and has grown more confident in her game on offense as an upperclassman to become an all-around leader on the court.
Through her hard work, Mott has been a key part of her team’s success during her four years at Southwest Guilford and has now earned a commitment with NCAA Division III school Guilford College to continue her basketball career at the next level.
“I think it’s crazy,” says Mott, the daughter of Sonya Mott Young and Nathaniel Young, with a laugh. “A lot of my family members and other people are like, ‘Congrats.’ And I’m really shy about that. But I think it’s awesome.”
Mott, who also earned the Presidential Scholarship, started playing basketball when she was 8 years old. But it was just one of many sports she participated in growing up. Eventually, she had to make a choice, and, from then on, she focused on basketball.
“I was doing too many, so my mom said, ‘Just pick one,’” Mott recalls. “And I picked basketball. It was something new, because I was doing kickboxing, gymnastics and swimming.
“I just like playing the game. It’s basketball — who doesn’t like basketball? Putting on that jersey, scoring baskets, playing hard defense and making steals — I guess it’s just in my blood.”
Into high school, she earned her way onto the varsity team as a freshman, due in large part to her prowess on defense. Her quick feet and willingness to execute the fundamentals put her in great defensive position. From there, her sheer will took over.
“It’s just: I don’t want you to have the ball, so I’m going to take it from you,” she says with a grin.
During her four years, Mott helped the Cowgirls win 94 games — including 47 conference wins against one loss— and capture four regular-season conference championships, three tournament crowns and one state title.
In the 2011 4A state championship game, Mott, just a sophomore at the time, was called upon to play tough defense down the stretch, which was key in helping Southwest secure its 44-35 win against Millbrook.
“She’s meant a whole lot,” Southwest coach Jessica Bryan says. “She’s one of those players who’s a coach’s dream. She’ll do anything, and she doesn’t complain. It’s: ‘What do you need, Coach?’ And she’ll go out and do it.
“She goes hard in practice. In fact, she’s probably one of the hardest working players I’ve had. Even on light days, she’ll go at game speed. She’s committed herself to getting better every year. She’s dedicated and she loves the game.”
As she improved and started drawing attention from schools, Mott, who was selected all-conference and all-tournament during the Sheetz holiday tournament as a senior, realized that basketball might be a way to pay for college.
Mott, who is also a standout student, considered schools including N.C. A&T State, Winston-Salem State and Greensboro College. But she chose Guilford largely because of how close it is to her family and it has her majors, environmental science and biology.
“It feels good,” she says of signing. “I’m not really the bragging type, but I like it.”