From Lake Highlands to New Haven: Samson Aletan Reflects on Going to an Ivy League

Basketball season is underway at LHHS, and the number two ranked Wildcats have more than a few standouts on their roster.


Samson Aletan Commitment photo

By Mary McMullen


Basketball season is underway at LHHS, and the number two ranked Wildcats have more than a few standouts on their roster. Senior student Samson Aletan, is one of those stars. On Sept. 23, Aletan announced his commitment to play basketball at Yale University.


Surprisingly, Aletan wasn’t always so sure that basketball was the sport for him.


“When I was a little kid, I first thought football was the sport for me,” Aletan explained. “However, basketball just continued to grow on me, and now it’s been my dream to play basketball for as long as possible.”


It wasn’t until his sophomore year that Aletan began to think that going D1 was possible. He explained that big moments during state playoffs made people and himself think he was legit. “I continued to work to prove the doubters wrong,” Aletan said.


“I received my first offer the summer after my sophomore year from St Louis University and had multiple other schools talking to me, but they weren’t ready to offer yet and it made me want to work even harder,” he continued. 


Eventually, Aleton received several offers.


“They all came in so fast I was blown away, but Coach (Duff) Duffield always mentioned how if I put in the work my time will come,” he said. “I guess my time was just a little later than others.”


However, as Samson mentioned, there were several bumps along the way.


“A couple heartbreaking playoff losses along with the physical stress my body was going through made it difficult for me,” Aletan mentioned. 


But being the athlete that he is, Aletan endured and experienced some amazing achievements.


“The biggest triumphs are the different relationships I made due to basketball,” he added. “I made so many friends and talked to a lot of different players and coaches, whether they were my teammates or my opponents, and I have grown a lot thanks to them.” 


It’s difficult for people to recognize the advances they’ve made and even as a star athlete, Samson struggled to recognize his progress.


“It doesn’t feel like this in game, but I’ve had different coaches and evaluators say I’ve improved a lot these past couple of years and that the sky’s the limit for me,” Aletan said.


Daunting as it may be, Aletan said that no athlete should let anyone prevent them from reaching their goals.


“You shouldn’t listen to any haters who don’t think that you can’t reach what you want to reach. If you’re willing to go the extra mile and put in the work, nothing’s impossible,” Aleton expressed.


Aletan shared his appreciation and gratitude for everyone who’s helped and supported him along his journey.


“I would like to thank my entire family for always being there along with all of Lake Highlands for supporting me these past three to four years, especially Jaire Williams, who’s been there for me since elementary school” Aleton shared. “Also, I would like to thank every coach who has helped me improve and try to reach the goals I’ve set for myself.”


Principal Kerri Jones and head coach Joe Duffield shared their excitement about Aletan’s D1 commitment.


“Samson is just a phenomenal person! His character speaks volumes, and he is such a positive light at LHHS,” Jones expressed. “He is also extremely humble and does not think he is better than anyone else.” 


Duffield added that Aletan’s work ethic, attitude, and coachability make him different from most athletes. 


“He always takes advantage of opportunities to get better at his craft. He takes coaching very well, and welcomes feedback on how he can get better,” Duffield said. “Then he takes that and works really hard to improve those areas of his game.”


Committing to play basketball at the collegiate level is one feat, but playing in the Ivy League is another. 


“Yale, Samson is going to Yale,” Jones added. “When the announcement was made, I was so proud of him and so excited for him! He deserves every bit of this opportunity!”


Jones has known Aletan for five years and is optimistic about his future.


“I am so thankful to have been part of his junior high and high school journey, as he has been the model of excellent character and is proof that hard work always pays off,” Jones said.


“He still has so much room where he can improve as a player; he’s just scratching the surface on what he can become,” Duffield added. “With his character and work ethic, I have no doubt he will have a great college career, and hopefully he’ll have some professional opportunities when he finishes playing college basketball.”


Everyone in the Lake Highlands Community is about to become a Yale Men’s Basketball fan!


As of now, Aletan and the Wildcats are 5-1 and ranked first in the state. Don’t forget to support the number one Wildcats at their next game on Dec. 3 against Parkview High School!


“Thank you for being an inspiration to me and others, Samson! You’ve got this,” Jones concluded.