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THE GRIND: Queens native Dabo thriving in second season at Forsyth Central
Aisha Dabo
Forsyth Central junior Aisha Dabo holds up a map of her hometown, LeFrak City, which is in the New York City borough of Queens. Dabo moved to Forsyth County as a freshman and is in her second season with the Bulldogs. - photo by David Roberts

The Grind: Aisha Dabo

By: Jon Benson III

It didn’t take long for Aisha Dabo to seek out Angela Hurt.

It was Dabo’s first day at Forsyth Central and she wanted to meet the basketball coach.

Dabo, who had just moved to Forsyth County from Queens, New York, grew up playing basketball with her family and had been playing competitively since she was in fourth grade.

It was paramount for her to make a good impression on her new coach.

Hurt, who is in her seventh season as Central’s head coach, had seen new players come and go, and she wanted to know if Dabo was any good.

So, when the two finally met, Hurt asked Dabo to place herself on a scale from one to 10.

Dabo replied confidently that she was a nine.

Aisha Dabo
Forsyth Central junior Aisha Dabo dribble the ball up the court last week during a 65-55 win against South Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts
“Then, it didn’t take long,” Hurt remembers, “because she had PE last year, that some of the other players were like, ‘Coach, that new girl is really good. She beat this guy and this guy,’ because they were playing one-on-one. They were like, ‘Coach, she’s good,’ and I was like, ‘So she’s a legit player?’ And they were like, ‘Yes.’”

That’s been the case during Dabo’s two seasons with the Bulldogs.

Last year, she was a first-team All-Forsyth County News selection, averaging 14 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

This year, she’s helped Central to a 13-5 start behind a handful of dominant performances.

In two games last week, Dabo posted 27 points and 15 points. And in a 75-46 win against Johns Creek two weeks ago, she netted a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

“She is a real student of the game,” Hurt said. “She wants to know. Just throughout my history, I’ve coached a lot of players that have been at high levels, and there’s been some that are coachable and really receptive to learning things. Then there’s some that’s not; you know, ‘I already know everything.’”

Dabo said she visits New York often, and she still plays for the New York Gauchos, an AAU basketball team based in New York City whose alumni include Kemba Walker and Stephon Marbury.

“It was kind of a shock to me, coming from a big city to a quiet town – like everything moves so slow for me,” Dabo said. “It was a big adjustment, but I became comfortable around everybody. People made me feel comfortable.”

Dabo sees those differences on the court, too. She’s used to a different element of the game where opposing players talk trash and try to get in her head.

Here, not many return fire.

“In New York, it’s more gritty, talking trash – more of a mental game,” Dabo said. “And in New York, you have a skilled guard game. Here, you have to learn how to play defense. So, that’s why Coach Hurt emphasizes defense. I actually try to play defense now.”

Dabo credits her teammates with helping ease the transition. She feels like the entire team clicks, and she describes the relationships between the players as without jealousy and envy.

Halfway through her junior year, Dabo said she already has a few Division I offers. Right now, though, she’s more concerned with turning Central into a championship team and continuing to be someone her teammates can count on.

“I just want to be remembered as a good person,” Dabo said. “Aside from basketball, I just want to have a genuine heart and everybody knows that I care for them and I love them all.”