NEWINGTON - Ashanti Frazier loves the game of basketball, but has always made sure that adoration never mutated into a sense of dependence. The game has always meant a lot to the soon-to-be Newington High School graduate since youth, but while it’s been a big part of her life for more than a decade, she never wanted it to be what defined her life.
Frazier, coming off an All-State selection and another all-conference season with the Newington girls basketball team, displayed this mindset before the season began, when she committed to play at Rhode Island College, a Division-III school in Providence that represented a perfect balance for Frazier. Basketball would remain a major part of her daily life, but it wouldn’t consume her college experience like a Division I or II school might.
Frazier had interest from schools as high as Division I, having been in contact with coaches from UMass and Yale, but despite that interest, which also included schools at the Division-II level, Frazier was looking for something simpler, and in turn, more fulfilling for college life as a whole.
“I didn’t want basketball to be my whole life,” Frazier said. “I didn’t want it to consume me.”
So Frazier declared herself an Anchorwoman, committing to RIC shortly before her senior season began with the Indians. Newington’s season was cut short before an appearance in the Class L semifinals, but it was another productive season for Frazier, who averaged a team-high 15.7 points per game and recorded her 1,000th-career varsity point in a farewell season that completed a memorable career with the Indians, who showered her with support after she announced that the final season with the team wouldn’t be the last season of her basketball career.
“They texted me right after I posted about it,” Frazier said. “Karissa and Marly [Zocco] said they were so proud of me, and [head coach Marc] Tancredi was really excited. He was mad I didn't tell him first, but he was really excited for me. Everything I am now, I owe it to Newington basketball.”
For Frazier, that “everything” she has become after four years with the Indians can’t be summed up within the circumference of a basketball. She just wants to keep playing the game she loves, and always wants it to feel like a game. Even if the crowds at RIC may be smaller than one at UMass or Yale, that’s fine with Frazier. It’s still 94 feet of hardwood.
“I play the game because I love it,” Frazier said. “I don’t play it because I want to be stressed over it.”
Don’t confuse Frazier’s desire for simplicity with a lack of competitiveness. The point guard still has goals set for her collegiate career, and hopes to make an immediate impact with her new team. RIC finished with a winning record this past season and reached the Little East Conference Tournament semifinals, and Frazier wants to help the Anchorwomen improve upon that mark for the 2020-21 season.
Frazier has experienced a lot of winning with Newington, and hopes to continue that trend as a college athlete. The spotlight may not shine as bright as other paths that may have been laid out before Frazier, but as long as she’s enjoying the sport and helping string together wins, she’ll be happy.
“I want to have the greatest plus/minus ever,” Frazier laughed. “Honestly, I just want to contribute in any way I can. Whatever that is, I want to do it.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com