For the past seven years, basketball has become a passion for Priyanka (Pri) Ponnam ’25, growing from a fun hobby into a serious competitive outlet. Pri invests time into perfecting her sport, practicing each aspect of the game with the determination to be the best.
“I have been motivated by others along the way who saw my potential and told me that I could be really good if I put in the work,” Pri explained. “I feel like I took that to another level and basketball has become like a second home to me. It is what I do when I have free time and it is something that I feel passionate about and love.”
“Basketball is a unique sport where you need skill level to be competitive, but also IQ,” Pri continued. “I know a lot of sports are like that, but there is something about the team as well as the individual dynamic that interests me.”
Pri’s basketball journey started when she was eight years old. “I tried a lot of different sports—soccer, swimming, and Indian classical dance prior to playing basketball,” Pri said. “I kept growing and became really tall, so my mom signed me up for basketball. I got really into it and kept with the sport to where I am at now.”
Once Pri developed a love for the game, she knew that her next step was to play high school basketball at a private school. “I was looking at other schools in addition to George School towards the end of middle school. What tipped the balance in favor of attending George School was when I learned that Coach La’Keisha Sutton was going to be coaching at GS. She taught me a lot about the game—she became my mentor, and I was really excited to build on the relationship and learn more from her in a high school basketball environment.”
In addition to playing for George School, Pri plays for Rose Classic Basketball, No Boyz Allowed Basketball League, and an AAU team called Exodus EYBL. “For AAU, I am the tallest player and play in the post. I was always the tallest when I was younger and always played low post,” Pri explained.
“At George School, I go out on the wing because I have the versatility and skill to shoot and handle the ball,” continued Pri. “Sometimes I drop down to the post. I can play 1-5, but I think my best skill is on the wing, taking defenders off the dribble and using my strength, body, and speed to make it tougher for people to guard me. My basketball idol is A’ja Wilson. I love her versatility and how she runs the floor. She can shoot at the high post and pop out at the low post. I want my play style to be like hers.”
Pri has enjoyed playing basketball at George School. “Last year was my first year, and we went on a 12-10 record, which shocked some people. I was unanimously selected for the Friends Schools League All-League First Team and was the leading scorer and rebounder. I am excited for this season to build on that record. La’Keisha is a phenomenal coach. She has so much to teach us and is very gentle and understanding. When she coaches and is trying to tell us something, it resonates because of her style. Her in-game adjustments are great and the plays she comes up with, especially coming out of time outs, are amazing.”
Off the court, Pri is also a student ambassador for the Admission Office, and is a member of the SAMOSA club, which is a South Asian group for students. “I love being involved at George School,” said Pri.
After she graduates from George School, Pri has ambitions to play at the collegiate level. She has set her sights on a Power Five D1 school. “I want to be a part of the March Madness tournaments but also attend a college that can help me beyond basketball. I am not sure what I want to major in yet, but I want to go to a school that has both a basketball and academic route for me. I sometimes think about what it would be like to play professional basketball, but I am staying focused on the next season with an eye on playing D1 basketball. I feel like the remainder of my high school career and the four years of collegiate level competition, and how I perform, will give me a clearer sense of my aspirations. I may decide the academic route is the right path for me.”
Pri is excited for the upcoming basketball season. “I think we are going to be really good,” she said. “I am really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish this season.”