Golden U19 Women Looking Strong Heading Into March Madness
A little more than seven months ago, 12 of the USA’s top 19-and-unders stepped atop the podium to collect their gold medals at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. University of Connecticut sophomore sensation Breanna Stewart led the squad, which defeated opponents by an average of 43.0 points a game, and was named MVP of the tournament after averaging team-bests of 16.9 points and 24.7 minutes per game while adding 6.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks and 1.2 assists per game.
Led by University of Miami head coach Katie Meier with assistant coaches Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University and Louisiana State Univesity’s Nikki Caldwell, the U.S. squad also featured current collegiate athletes Candice Agee (Penn State), Nia Coffey (Northwestern), Bashaara Graves (Tennessee), Linnae Harper (Kentucky), Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut), Alexis Jones (Duke), Kelsey Plum (Washington) and Morgan Tuck (Connecticut). Further, a trio of current high school seniors – Gabby Green (St. Mary’s College H.S., Calif.), Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S., Texas) and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S., S.C.) – were among the 12-member squad.
It's safe to say that these players and coaches didn't lose a step by spending three weeks on the road with the USA U19 World Championship Team as most have had very successful seasons to date -- winning conference titles, collecting honors and helping their teams secure top-notch victories. With conference tournaments tipping off this weekend, take a look at what they've accomplished so far heading into March Madness.
(Note: all stats and records as of March 5, 2014)
Candice Agee: The sophomore center helped Penn State repeat as regular season Big Ten Conference champions, post a 22-6 record and 13-3 in the Big Ten, and averaged 3.4 ppg. and 2.5 rpg.
Nia Coffey: As a freshman, averaged team-highs of 15.2 ppg., and 8.1 rpg., to go with 2.0 apg., 1.8 bpg. and 1.6 spg., as Northwestern finished with a 15-14 record. Coffey was named 2014 All-Big Ten first team by league coaches and to the All-Big Ten second team by the media, and also earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors.
Bashaara Graves: The sophomore averaged 9.7 ppg. and 6.3 rpg. in aiding No. 6 Tennessee to a 24-5 record, including 13-3 in the Southeastern Conference and a No. 2 seed heading into this weekend's SEC Tournament.
Gabby Green: Signed to play at Cal next year, in the meantime was named a 2014 WBCA and McDonald's All-American and helped St. Mary's College H.S. advance to the 2014 CIF North Coast Section Division 4 finals, which will be played on March 8, and a 25-7 record.
Linnae Harper: Named to the 2014 SEC All-Freshman Team after averaging 6.4 ppg. and 2.4 rpg. in 13.5 minutes off the bench for the 22-7 Wildcats.
Moriah Jefferson: Helped UConn to a perfect 31-0 record in the regular season, named to the 2014 All-American Athletic Conference first team after leading the league in assists (5.2 apg.), field goal percentage (.569) and assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0), while adding 10.1 ppg.
Alexis Jones: Helped lead Duke to a 25-5 record, 12-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and is averaging 13.1 ppg., 4.1 rpg. and a team-high 5.3 apg.
Kelsey Plum: Named the 2014 Pacific-12 Conference Freshman of the Year and to the All-Pac-12 first team; averaging a team-high 20.9 ppg., along with 4.7 rpg. and 2.9 apg. in helping lead UW to a 17-12 record and wins over then-No. 4 Stanford and then-No. 20 California.
Breanna Stewart: A unanimous selection to the All-AAC first team, averaging 19.5 and 8.3 rpg. for the No. 1 Huskies.
Morgan Tuck: Averaged 7.5 ppg. and 2.4 rpg. in eight games before being sidelined for the season with a knee injury.
Brianna Turner: Will play for Notre Dame next year, recently captured the 2014 Texas Class 5A championship and earned championship MVP honors in the process; named a 2014 WBCA High School All-American and McDonald's All-American.
A’Ja Wilson: Recently concluded her high school career by leading Heathwood Hall to the South Carolina Independent Schools Association AAA State Championship; named the 2014 WBCA High School Player of the Year and a McDonald's All-American.
USA U19 head coach Katie Meier: Finished the season with a 16-14 mark and the second round of the ACC Tournament.
USA U19 assistant coach Nikki Caldwell: Finished the regular season in the SEC with an 18-11 record, including 7-9 in the conference, heading into tonight's SEC Tournament game versus Alabama.
USA U19 assistant coach Kelly Graves: Earned his eighth West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honor after leading Gonzaga to a 26-4 record, including a perfect 16-0 mark at home and 16-2 in conference play.