Albertville senior post player Makayla Phillips was a force to be reckoned with during the 2018-19 basketball season.
“When I was talking to coaches that we played against this season, when we talked about Makayla, they didn’t have anybody that could really guard her,” Albertville head coach Matt Nelson said.
“She can play inside, she can play outside and she can handle the basketball. Her shot got a lot better. She shot it real well.”
Voted the defensive player of the year on the 2019 All-Marshall County team, Phillips averaged 13.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while collecting 69 steals and 17 blocked shots.
Phillips’ performance attracted the attention of Oakwood University head coach Robert Harris, who saw her as a great fit for his program.
On April 18, Phillips made it official by signing with the Ambassadors during a ceremony in the Albertville High library.
Phillips has dreamed of playing college basketball since she was 5 years old.
“I knew whenever I started playing that it is what I wanted to do for a long time,” Phillips said. “My heart just called to basketball, and I knew that it was kind of what I was supposed to do whenever I got older was to go and play in college.
“I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am. I put in a lot of hours working on it, putting my whole life toward it basically.”
Oakwood, a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution in Huntsville, first expressed interest in Phillips playing volleyball. After Harris saw her play basketball, he wanted to sign her.
“Now that I’m going to play basketball, I hope I’m able to play volleyball as well,” Phillips said.
She expects to contribute as a freshman, because Harris is transforming the roster by bringing in several new players.
“I went on an official visit and I fell in love with the campus. It’s so pretty,” Phillips said. “I really think it will be a good fit for me next year.”
Phillips helped lead Albertville to its first area tournament championship in 20 years in 2019. The Aggies beat Fort Payne 56-40 at Fort Payne in the Class 6A, Area 13 finals.
Albertville finished with a 21-8 record, tying the 2012-13 squad for the most single-season wins by an AHS girls club.
“We had a really great season,” Phillips said.
Phillips, Hannah Lightsey and Mcall Roe were the Aggie basketball team’s three seniors. The girls made the most of their final season.
“Me, Mcall and Hannah have been playing together since we were 5 years old, so we grew up together,” she said. “Being seniors, we knew that we could lead the team like we needed to, and I feel like we all three just kind of stepped up and were like we really need to do good this year.
“We kind of all came to the same understanding that we’re going to set good examples, we’re going to be good leaders and we’re going to do everything we need to do in order to make this season the best it could be.”
Nelson said a light came on for Phillips around Christmas-time, and she averaged 17 to 18 points per game from then until the end of the season.
“She’s a really, really good player and we hate to see her go, but she’s going to a good place and we’re looking forward to seeing her play college ball,” Nelson said.
“Anytime you have one, much less two, that can sign a scholarship that’s a great year, and we haven’t had that in a while. To have both Hannah and Makayla play well and be able to go on and play at the next level, we’re very, very proud of them.”
Lightsey signed with Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.
Phillips expressed gratitude to her family and coaches for their contributions to her career.
“I would like to thank all of my coaches that coached me when I was younger, and my mom, my stepdad and my grandparents,” she said. “They have been there for me through absolutely everything I’ve been through, been at all my games since I can remember. They wouldn’t miss it for the world, I know they wouldn’t.
“I feel like my whole family has been a really big support system, and also my coaches and Coach [Cristy] West. She was also a very good support system, and Coach Nelson and Coach [Jeanne] Rains. I just really appreciate all that they’ve done.
“They never gave up on me. They kept helping me, and you don’t find that in a lot of places. I really appreciate that.”