Alexandra Zelaya: Millennium’s Perfect Stroke

It’s still 45 minutes before tip-off but there is Alexandra Zelaya, by herself, in her warm ups going through her unique and patterned pre-game stretching routine before her Millennium Tigers take on South Mountain.

For people close to the 6-foot-4 senior forward and co-captain, this comes as no surprise. The effort Zelaya has displayed on and off the court for the defending 5A State Champions over the last three-and-a-half years has been second to none.

“As a coach you can ask for nothing more than when you have an athlete who is not only just a great basketball player but is great in the classroom, as well,” Millennium head coach Courtland Rojeck said to Sports360AZ.com. “Ali, she sets the example in all facets. She’s involved in the school National Honor Society…she has well over a 4.0 GPA with all her AP and honors classes.”

Oh, she’s also quite skilled on the court and headed to the ACC next year to continue her academic and athletic career. Zelaya hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy.

“North Carolina was always the school I’d cheer for,” she said to Sports360AZ.com flashing a wide grin. “They have great academics. It’s a beautiful place. The school isn’t too big. It’s that perfect size…I knew it was the right fit.”

Zelaya has been the perfect fit for Rojeck the past three-plus seasons but the same can’t be said for any of the opponents on Millennium’s schedule.

“An amazing skill-set for a 6’4 player,” Rojeck explained almost sheepishly. “She’s a kid right now, I think, as coaches prepare for us they’re not quite sure how to guard her.”

The well-rounded senior has the ability to draw bigs away from the basketball but also take advantage of mis-matches inside if opponents opt to guard her with a smaller, quicker player. It’s easy to see why she received over 20 Division I offers before choosing UNC over Princeton, Gonzaga, Michigan and Florida.

Zelaya’s talents were on full display during a lopsided home win over South Mountain as she tallied a game-high 17 points, while adding a handful of rebounds and a number of beautiful assists in just three quarters of play.

Beauty is something she shows through her art, as well. Zelaya’s grandfather is a professional artist and she uses her creativity in said realm as a way of balancing the chaos and stress of academics, as well as basketball.

“It’s very peaceful,” she said. “Art is something that’s simple to me. It something that keeps me at peace and kind of helps me relax and destress.”

The Lady Tigers are hoping to keep things rolling this season. Millennium (12-3) is currently riding a five-game win streak after Friday night’s win over Goldwater. Zelaya poured in 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists against the Bulldogs.

Millennium next plays Tuesday night at Verrado.

This season Zelaya is leading MHS in scoring (16.2), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (17).

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.