Raia Guinto, centre, has signed on to play for the Winnipeg Wesmen women's basketball team as the latest recruit in the Class of 2022. (David Larkins/Wesmen Athletics)

Faced with a deadline to choose where her life would take her next, Raia Guinto decided she wasn't quite done with basketball yet.

And so the dynamic Sisler High School guard has found herself a university home with basketball in mind, committing to the UWinnipeg Wesmen women's basketball program as the newest member of the Class of 2022.

Guinto, whose older sister Raizel played four seasons at Louisiana Tech and is now back home in Winnipeg, was still pondering her next move as recently as a few months ago when she realized the passion to hoop was still very much there.

And she wanted to do it in Winnipeg.

"For me, personally, I could never see myself leaving," said Guinto, who had offers from outside the city and province to continue her career. "And staying around my family is most important because I couldn't have done it without them.

"… My team, I know they're going to be there for me and my family, of course. I'm very thankful to have them by my side all the years I've been playing."

Guinto was not only a graduating all-star in 2022, but she was also one of five players named to the AAAA all-Manitoba team and was ranked No. 4 overall in the Winnipeg Free Press' annual coaches' poll of the top players in the province.

She has extensive experience playing in the Manitoba provincial program, first at the U15 level and now with the U18 team that will represent the province at this summer's Canada Games.

"Raia is the whole package: She can defend, she can score, she can handle the ball, and she has a very high basketball IQ," Wesmen head coach Alyssa Cox said. "Her training this summer with the Canada Games team will set her up well for her first U Sports season, helping her to transition to the faster, more physical style of play she will see next year. Raia was a leader with her Sisler team this year and we hope she will bring some of those leadership skills to our program during her career with the Wesmen."

Guinto never thought of basketball as a future for her past high school, but saw the potential when her sister signed her NCAA letter of intent.

"Probably when my sister got signed I was like 'Oh, there's actually a future here,'" she said. "I started to figure out what I'm good at, what I needed to work on, and where I stood. And I started to get confident."

Guinto said she's excited to put the recruiting process and decision-making behind her and focus on her next chapter. And she joked she is happy she no longer has to keep the big news to herself.

"It's been really hard not telling people," she said. "I wasn't going to tell anybody but my family, but I told one person and then I told another person, and then I told my whole team and was like 'K guys, don't tell anyone.' So I guess I'm kind of a hypocrite in that sense."

Guinto joins CMU transfer Julia Schatkowsky, Camosun College transfers Tamiya Ness and Sadie McMillan-Stowards, and Selkirk's Sarah Boitson in this year's recruiting class.

Source: https://wesmen.ca/general/2021-22/releases/20220621fxey82

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