With the graduation of a talent-rich senior class, followed by a key transfer out of the program during the offseason, opportunity has come knocking for Allen senior Ian Motta as he prepares for his final year with the Eagles’ boys basketball team.
Motta strung together an all-district junior campaign as a fast-breaking, floor-spacing cog in the Eagles’ district championship machine and has a chance, along with fellow senior Mason Gibson, to keep Allen among the state’s elite for the 2020-21 season.
Beforehand, the 6-foot-6 forward put a key piece of his basketball future to rest — verbally committing to Bucknell on Tuesday.
“Like any athlete, trying to get recruited is really difficult, so to finally have all that work pay off is really exciting and to have that process done with is relieving but also exciting at the same time,” Motta said.
Born in Puerto Rico, Motta’s recruitment has swelled plenty over the past year and didn’t slow down despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Since late April, Motta tweeted offers from North Carolina-Wilmington, Rice, Iona, Navy and Central Arkansas. Bucknell offered Motta on June 25, fitting his vision for an overall college fit.
“I’ve been talking with them and really liked what they had as an all-around school and the fit for me as far as basketball goes. Their academics are really good as well,” Motta said.
In addition to Bucknell, Motta said that he gave Princeton and Loyola-Chicago particularly strong consideration as well.
“I think I would have enjoyed either school, but the overall fit at Bucknell was best for me,” Motta said.
In terms of a basketball fit, Motta will get a chance to carve out minutes for one of the country’s more consistent mid-major programs, having qualified for the NCAA tournament eight times — most notably springing a first-round upset of No. 3 seed Kansas in 2005.
Beforehand, Motta will look to build off a breakout junior campaign at Allen, earning a starting role and posting an all-district season for the District 9-6A champions. Named to the conference’s first team, Motta averaged 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists to help the Eagles to their first outright league title since 1992.
Motta will have plenty of chances to improve on those numbers during his senior season. Allen graduated 9-6A's co-MVP (Bryce Kennedy) and offensive player of the year (Thailand Elder), and the other half of that co-MVP equation -- Manny Obaseki -- transferred to John Paul II for his senior season.
“I think that I’m going to have a bigger role and it’s something I’m excited about,” Motta said. “I’m ready to take on that challenge and I’ll have Mason (Gibson) right there next to me. I think that our biggest role is going to getting those younger guys involved and finding ways to help them help us win.”
In preparation for his senior season, Motta said that he has been working on his defense and shooting, already strong in the latter after knocking down 37.5% of his 3-pointers last season. Motta also hopes to get a chance to shine as a playmaker — picking up where the Eagles’ 2020 senior class left off.
“This year, we are going to be those seniors. We’ll have to take that leadership role and run things more than we did in the past,” Motta said.