Jessilyn Conicelli made the right decision four years ago when she had to choose between basketball and volleyball.
Now a Biola graduate, Conicelli recently finished her fourth and final season on Biola’s women’s basketball team as one of the most successful players in program history. This year alone, she was named NAIA First-Team All-American and GSAC Player of the Year — making her the first Biola woman to earn either honor — as well as an Academic All-American and Capitol One Second-Team Academic All-American.
“It’s an honor for our entire team because you know, it’s not just about me,” she said. “When I got player of the year, I couldn’t have done that without my team, without my coaches. So it’s kind of just saying, ‘Oh, we’re the team of the year.’”
This season, Conicelli averaged 18.1 points, 12.5 rebounds per game, earning 27 double-doubles over the season. Overall, she earned 1,595 points during her college career.
Standing at 6 feet tall, Conicelli played the positions of forward and center for the majority of her career. She joked at the reality of her small size for such central positions.
“I’m like the big man inside, but really not that big,” Conicelli said.
Even though her time on a college team is over, she is not finished with her career. She plans to play overseas for a few years before coming back to try out for the WNBA.
Her ideal place to play basketball overseas would be somewhere in Australia or Europe. Conicelli said she knows she will have to work her way up and plans to consider offers from anywhere. Coaches are helping her look for connections overseas, and she hopes to find out this summer if she will be on a team.
Until then, she will be spending countless hours in the gym to keep her skills sharp.
“I’m not done playing ball,” she said. “It’s my gift. God gave me a gift and he gave me a passion for it, so I don’t know, I feel like I worship him through it.”
Conicelli’s college career ended with a loss in the first round of the NAIA national tournament this past March. While she still gets emotional thinking about the loss and the last game with her college teammates, she treasures those moments.
She said playing her last college basketball game was tough. It took the team over an hour to leave the gym and head to their hotel room after the game was over.
“I didn’t take my jersey off. I went back to the hotel in my jersey,” she said. “I didn’t want to take my shoes off but my teammates took them off for me.”
After playing basketball for eight years and a career full of many highlights, Conicelli said her most memorable moment came right after their loss at nationals and the realization that her college career came to an end.
“The most memorable moment probably of my career is just that huddle at the end and that prayer from our coach and everyone’s holding each other,” she said. “It’s a sad moment but also so happy at the same time. We may not have gone as far as we should have, but basketball is so much more than that.”