Former Blue Devil taking talents to D-1

Ever since she can remember, former Davis High girls basketball star Cristina Oliva has been passionate about athletics.

It runs in her family.

Oliva’s father, Angelo, is a former Sacramento State quarterback.

And her uncle, Harold Pressley, played four seasons for the Sacramento Kings and several more years overseas.

When she was as young as 5-years-old, Oliva dreamed of playing basketball in college, accomplishing that goal when she committed to Cal State East Bay during her senior year of high school.

However, the 2019 DHS graduate would redshirt her first year before transferring to Sierra College.

After a season at Sierra, Oliva announced Monday that she is transferring to Utah State. She will become the first former Blue Devil girls basketball player to play Division I college basketball.

“I think it’s pretty awesome how I’m the first Davis High School girl for women’s basketball to go to D-1,” Oliva said. “It’s for sure an accomplishment but I have a lot more to accomplish now.”

With three years of eligibility, Oliva had multiple college options but recalls immediately feeling like Utah State was the right place for her.

“When I went on my visit, I fell in love with everything about Utah State,” Oliva said. “I immediately felt at home when I got off the plane. Coach (Kayla Ard’s) hospitality, along with all the other coaches, made me feel so special and happy throughout the whole visit.”

It was also an academic choice as Utah State provides the Criminal Justice major that Oliva wants to study, along with a minor in sociology.

Oliva’s decision came after a freshman campaign at Sierra, where she led the Wolverines with 15.4 points per game and was named first-team all-Big 8 Conference. Her efforts helped Sierra win its first state championship since 1999.

“I’ve had so many amazing accomplishments throughout my freshman season at Sierra, but none of it would have happened if it wasn’t for everyone on my team,” Oliva said. “The bond that me and my teammates shared at Sierra, along with the coaches was something so special that I will never forget.”

Sierra College head coach Brandie Murrish spoke highly of Oliva’s talent and work ethic.

“She came in and was a really dynamic player,” Murrish said. “She’s definitely a player the fans love watching because she’s really explosive with her offensive skill set. She’s also a true gym rat which I honestly think are far and few between these days.”

When considering which of her skills will translate best to her new situation, Oliva is most confident in her shooting ability.

Oliva’s shooting stroke was her most potent weapon at Sierra as it helped her score in double figures 19 times, including a season-high 26 points on two occasions. She believes Utah State’s offensive scheme will get her open looks to shoot the ball.

“Being a shooter is something I will always be confident in regards to my game,” Oliva said. “Entering a new system and culture is always going to be difficult at first, but I fell in love with the way Utah State runs their offense.”

Oliva’s scoring capabilities have been on display going back to her time at Davis. The 5-foot-9 guard scored over 1,000 points in high school, with her career-high being a 44-point explosion against Sheldon in a 66-63 win at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Jan. 25, 2019.

But Oliva is more than just a scorer, says Murrish.

“She’s truly a triple threat. She’s able to create for others who are spotting up for shots,” Murrish said. “I think Utah State is really getting a complete guard.”

She can also corral rebounds as she grabbed five or more rebounds in 12 games at Sierra, including a season-best 13 rebounds at Modesto Junior College.

Oliva’s first opportunity to prove herself with her new team will come when Utah State’s season begins around the end of October and the beginning of November.

Utah State’s schedule for the 2022-23 season has not been announced at this time.

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