Basketball always made sense to Cire Worley. Worley grew up in a basketball family and learned to love the sport, which has made her a future.
Worley’s father Eric made a career in the Philadelphia basketball scene after playing at Central High School and West Chester. Worley was a 1,000 point scorer for the Rams and is a member of their Hall of Fame.
Worley then spent some time coaching in the Philadelphia area before eventually starting the Philly Triple Threat AAU program, for which he now serves as program director. He originally started the program after struggling to find a competitive option for Cire’s older sister, Dianna Thomas-Palmer.
Thomas-Palmer – who played at Hofstra and is now an assistant coach at UMass Lowell – wasn’t Worley’s only inspiration for basketball – her cousin Aaliyah Worley played for Stony Brook. Cire Worley also attributes her basketball development to spending time with the players in Eric Worley’s Philly Triple Threat AAU program.
“It was always something I did [knew],” she said. “My sister and I are quite apart in age, so I was able to witness her and her college journey [and] my cousin and her college trip. So I had a couple in my family that came before me to show what it’s like to be a basketball player.
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Growing up in the sport helped her develop an advanced basketball IQ. Coupled with her above-average shooting skills, Worley’s basketball IQ helped her find ground quickly at Abington.
“When I saw her play, when she came into the tryouts her freshman year, I knew she was special,” said Ghosts coach Dan Marsh. “She could already score. She was an elite scorer even as a freshman.”
Worley was credited with averaging 12.5 points per game in a scoring role in her freshman season with Abington in the second-team All-Suburban One League. As a sophomore, she built on that performance as a freshman, scoring 16.5 points per game en route to first-team victory.
Offensive play has always been a strength of Worley at Abington but as she progressed Marsh began to push Worley into becoming a more complete player. For Worley, that meant being just as effective on defense. Compared to other programs in the SOL, Abington has a smaller roster: At 6ft, Worley is the Ghosts’ tallest player. As a result, Marsh looked to Worley to get more rebounds and play central defense.
Much of Worley’s ability to quickly improve her game stems from the knowledge she acquired of basketball as a child.
“Every year she came back better and better,” Marsh said. “I think that’s just because she has a high basketball IQ and she knew that if she wanted to play at the level she wanted to play at, she couldn’t just be a goalscorer.”
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Though Worley has blossomed into a full-fledged player as a senior, she was still the team’s biggest threat. She holds the program record for most points scored in a game (38) and she broke the all-time program record on Sunday. Worley also acts as the team’s leader on and off the floor.
Cire’s leadership skills come as no surprise to Eric Worley. He observed her being drawn to the technical aspects of the game and developing an appreciation for the little things. He also believes her leadership skills as Abington could be a glimpse into her future in the sport.
“I think she really wants to coach basketball,” said Eric Worley. “I think she will be a great coach in the very near future because she has a great understanding of the game. I believe [in terms of] With her overall leadership and leadership skills, she was a stand-up leader in her young life.”
Prior to this potential future as a coach, Cire Worley will continue her career as a player at UMass Lowell. Worley’s early success at Abington, as well as her performance on the Nike EYBL track with her Philly Rise AAU program, helped her catch the attention of Division I. Worley had offers from local programs St. Joseph’s and Drexel, as well as Coppin State, Delaware and UMass Lowell.
When it came time to decide about her future in basketball, she leaned on what helped her fall in love with the sport in the first place: her family. Because her older sister coached the River Hawks, Worley was able to develop a relationship of trust with the coaching staff early on.
“I think the coaching staff and seeing how they run things and operate [was important]’ said Worley. “I know I don’t have to worry about the coaching staff up there. … That was really something I was looking for, coaches who can build me up and coach me as a player.”
For Eric Worley, Cire’s time at UMass Lowell will be a full circle moment.
“As a father, I feel kind of good that I can have a daughter on the touchline as a coach and a daughter on the touchline as a player,” said Eric Worley.