When thinking about the best college basketball players in Western Pennsylvania, the talented athletes from Pitt, Duquesne, and Robert Morris usually comes to mind.
However, you’ve got to look to Division II California University of Pennsylvania to find the lone player in the area that is averaging more than 20 points and ten rebounds per game this season.
That player is Philip Alston, and he has been nothing short of dominant.
A 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward from Columbus, Ohio, Alston is amidst one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory for any player in the area, regardless of level.
Alston, averaging 20.1 points per game, ranks in the top-40 in scoring in Division II. He is one of only 18 players in Division II averaging more than ten blocks per game. He is the only player that has started all 12 of Cal U’s games this season. He sits 50 points ahead of the second-highest scorer on the team. 50 rebounds ahead of the second-highest rebounder on the team. He’s the team leader in blocks.
Alston, after only averaging eight minutes per game in his first season with the program, has been a key piece in Cal’s run to an impressive 8-4 start to the season so far.
“I feel like changing my body and working on conditioning, getting stronger and faster has helped me the most this year,” Alston told Pittsburgh Sports Now in an interview. “Just being able to fly around at my size and strength this year and my coach trusting in me fully this year.”
For Alston, he says that attacking the rim is his best skill on the court. He can, like he said, fly. He throws down vicious, rim-rattling dunks every time he’s out there, no matter if there are defenders in the way or not.
In mid-November, he put up back-to-back performances of 37 and 35 points. He has scored in double-digits in all but one game. He has had five games of at least 13 rebounds. And most important of all, his team has been winning games.
“Cal has been great,” he said about the team’s solid start to the season. “Our team chemistry is always great here, everyone gets along together well and we all hang out outside of basketball all the time. Our coaching staff is great too. Our assistants are always ready to help out when we want to get in the gym and get extra shots and on the bench during the games they help call out other teams plays and just help us see the game. Our Head Coach, Coach Sancomb, I love playing for him because he is just as competitive as us and wants to win at all costs, just as bad as we do.”
Recently, Alston was featured on FrankieVision, a popular media page with over 100 thousand followers, in a spotlight series that highlights underrated college hoopers.
After missing last season due to COVID, Cal U is looking to turn things around and compete for a conference title this year. Sitting at 3-3 in league play, the Vulcans have some work to do to make it back to the top, but Alston and his teammates believe that they can.
“I definitely feel like we can win out, but our goals are to win our conference, win our conference tournament then make the NCAA Tournament and win a national championship. I know we also want to be ranked, I don’t know when the last time Cal had a ranked team.”
As for his individual goals, Alston still has two years of eligibility left at Cal U after this season, and plans to make the most of them before pursuing his ultimate dreams of playing pro ball.
“My main goals right now are to win player of the year for my conference, make the tournament, be an All-American this year, and then eventually play professionally,” he said. “My main goal is the NBA but overseas would be great too.”