Ex-Carondelet star Ali Bamberger of Concord transfers to Saint Mary’s College
Before Ali Bamberger of Concord began her 2018-19 senior basketball season at Carondelet High School, she announced that the University of Washington was her collegiate destination.
Since then, she helped her Cougar team to a fourth successive North Coast Section championship while making the all-state team like her father Eric Bamberger did 30 years previously and followed that playing her freshman season for the Huskies, which ended prematurely when she suffered the first major injury of her career.
To top off that whirlwind year and half, Bamberger announced last week that she is transferring this fall to Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, her dad’s alma mater.
“Ali will be a great addition to our program,” SMC head coach Paul Thomas said. “As a person, she has all the qualities we look for: unselfish, caring and driven. These are the same qualities she possesses on the court. Ali will be a great teammate for the Gaels.”
‘Not your traditional center’
The Gaels communications department transfer announcement said: Bamberger is not your traditional center as she can shoot the three-pointer, making her an excellent fit for head coach Thomas’ run n’ gun style of offense. Of the 92 shots Bamberger took during her freshman season at Washington, 46 of them came from three-point range, where she shot 34.8%. This past season, the Gaels set program records for most three-pointers attempted and made while ranking 13th in the NCAA in three-point percentage (37%).
Thomas has coached Saint Mary’s since 2006. This year’s Gaels suffered some tough injuries and finished with a 12-19 record, breaking a streak of eight consecutive 20+ win seasons. It was the team’s first losing West Coast Conference record (6-12) since 2007-08, Thomas’ second season in charge.
The 6-3 Bamberger suffered a torn ACL and MCL in her right knee in the closing minutes of a Feb. 23 UW upset win over No. 8 UCLA. Bamberger scored a season-high 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting while adding five rebounds and a season-high three assists against the Bruins before the injury when she was going for a rebound.
First injury of any consequence
Bamberger had played in 27 of 29 games when she was felled by the injury. She had her best all-around game two days earlier in a win over USC.
Eric Bamberger said it was the first injury of any consequence his daughter has suffered in 12 years playing basketball. After the swelling went down, she had surgery a month ago in San Francisco at UCSF and is currently undergoing physical therapy in San Ramon. She is completing online classes at Washington and will start school in the fall at Saint Mary’s.
The rehab for an injury of this nature is estimated at nine to 12 months so Bamberger will redshirt next year and have three years of eligibility remaining.
The elder Bamberger played four varsity seasons for the Gaels from 1988-1992, earning all-conference honors as a junior and senior. He played professional basketball on four continents before starting a long career as a boys basketball high school coach.
He prepped at Ygnacio Valley High, leading the Warriors to the CIF Division I state championship game against legendary Mater Dei in 1987. YVHS won NCS the following year.
Closer to home
Eric Bamberger mentioned that being able to be closer to the family home in Concord played a part in his daughter’s decision to transfer. He can appreciate her process as he took steps to transfer from SMC to Cal as a sophomore before returning to the Moraga school in the fall. Cal had recruited him out of high school to play football for the Bears.
Saint Mary’s recruited Ali Bamberger but wasn’t among her final four college choices of Washington, UC Davis, Boise State and San Diego State. She was ranked the No. 8 player in California and No. 81 overall in the Class of 2019 by Prospects Nation.
Since fourth grade she played club basketball for the Lamorinda-area Cal Stars. In her high school years the team traveled the country playing in top-level tournaments including the Nike circuit in Kentucky, Illinois, South Carolina and George, besides up and down the West Coast.
At Carondelet, Ali Bamberger finished with a 99-25 record in four years and capped that with a 26-5 senior season averaging 19 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game as the Cougars won that fourth straight NCS title and finished No. 4 in Bay Area rankings. Emily Howie, Erica Miller, Alex Brown and Tatyana Modawar joined Bamberger as the Cougar’s Fabulous Five that won those 99 games.
Brown and Bamberger actually started playing together as second graders for St. Bonaventure CYO in Concord.
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