Ashland High basketball sensation Allison Gida didn't verbally commit to the University of Utah until last week, but she may have made up her mind years ago.

Ashland High basketball sensation Allison Gida didn't verbally commit to the University of Utah until last week, but she started leaning in that direction years ago.

Tagging along with fellow Ashland hoopster Brenna Heater and former Ashland head coach Steve Farley, Gida, now a junior, toured the campus in Salt Lake City as a freshman. The experience stuck with her, and when she returned for another visit March 17-19 Gida was anxious to break the news to her future coaches.

"I was nervous the whole day," she said, recalling the anxiety of walking around with Utah assistant and former Southern Oregon University assistant men's coach Anthony Levrets, waiting for the right moment to make her decision public.

"We were walking down to practice from the stadium and I was talking to Anthony and he said, 'What's the percentage?' (that Gida would commit to Utah). I said that it was 100 percent, and he's like, 'Is this a commitment?'"

It was, which means that in 2010, Gida will become the second Grizzly to join the Utes. Josi McDermott, who graduated from AHS in 2006, just completed her redshirt freshman season at Utah, which lost to No. 1-seeded Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament on Tuesday.

McDermott and Levrets aren't the only Ashland connection at Mountain West Conference powerhouse. Farley joined Utah last summer and Levrets' wife, Sarah Barrett, is the team's director of operations.

Gida is relieved that her search is over.

"I was really stressing on it," she said. "Right when I (became) a junior, I had to start thinking about it right away. There was so much coming at me at once and it was so nice to get that off and have a good senior year."

Gida said she was told by the Utah coaching staff that playing time is not doled out according to seniority. At Utah, performance is what matters most, "So if you want to start as a freshman, you have to prove your skills," Gida said.

That help convince the 5-foot-10 all-star who started as a freshman at AHS that the Utes would be a good fit.

Gida also received positive vibes from Utah head coach Elaine Elliott, her staff and the players.

"They were all really nice," Gida said.

Gida watched the team practice and was impressed with the precision and organization.

"It was short, but it was really in order and everyone has to go hard," Gida said. "Just get it done, get it right, go home. They do scouting reports and videos so they practice what they have to work on to stop the other team."