Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Meet the USA WBB U 18 team -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
WALZ HAS U 18 SQUAD IN MEXICO CITY TO BEGIN PLAY WEDNESDAY
With a gold medal performance in the hip pocket of the USA U 17 squad, it's now Jeff Walz's turn to mine a little precious metal down Mexico way with the U 18 team. Hopefully, they'll get in, win and get out before the proposed border wall goes up...in any event, a very solid and talented squad of 12 goes to group play beginning Wednesday at 7:30 PM against Group A opponent Argentina.
I'll leave any pre-game write-up possibilities and pool analysis to our esteemed Jared Anderson and his Wednesday check-in. Today, let's look at who will play. Highlighted below is the players name, class she's in, position and height.
AIJHA BLACKWELL -- 2019 -- Guard -- 6'0"
From the Whitefield School in Berkeley, MO, she's undecided yet on her college commitment. She averaged 24.2 ppg as a junior and was selected for the USA Today All-Missouri First team. She's ranked #22 in the 2019 ESPNW Hoop Gurlz Super 60. Has a list of 12 college finalist, including Louisville.
JENNA BROWN -- 2018 -- Guard -- 5'10"
Hailing from The Lovett School in Smyrna, GA, she'll be on the Stanford campus this fall.
Jenna was named to the 2018 Naismith All-American First Team and was a 2018 McDonald's All-American. She also made the 2018 All-USA Second team. Played on the 2016 USA U 16 squad. Ranked 18th. overall on ESPNW Hoop Gurlz Super 60 for 2018.
DESIREE CALDWELL -- 2018 -- Guard -- 5'8"
Desiree played for Byron P. Steele II High School in Cibolo, TX. She'll take her game to USC (Southern Califonia) this fall. Part of the 2018 Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State, All-Region and All-Star teams. She was ranked 19th. in the 2018 ESPNW Hoop Gurlz Super 60. Her sister Reece played for UCLA and Texas Tech.
MAORI DAVENPORT -- 2019 -- Forward -- 6'4"
Out of Troy, AL, was a star at Henderson H.S. and named to the USA Today All-Alabama squad. She's still uncommitted for college. Ranked 13th, in the 2019 ESPNW Hoop Gurlz Super 60. Averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds as a junior to help lead her team win the Alabama 5A State title. Louisville on her list of colleges to consider.
NAZAHRAH HILLMON-BAKER -- 2018 -- Forward -- 6'1"
From Cleveland, OH...she played for Gilmore Academy and will go to Michigan in the fall to play for Kim Barnes Arico. Selected for the 2018 USA Today All-Ohio First Team and named Ohio Basketball Coaches Association Player of the Year for Division III. Ranked 58th. in the 2018 ESPNW Hoop Gurlz Super 60.
RHYNE HOWARD -- 2018 -- Guard -- 6'2"
Played for Bradley Central H.S. (Cleveland, TN) and will suit up for Matthew Mitchell and the Kentucky Wildcats this fall. She received Jordan Brand recognition, was the 3A Tennessee Player of the Year, 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year and USA Today All- Tennessee First Team selection. 32nd on the 2018 ESPNW Hoop Gurlz list.
ASHLEY JOENS -- 2018 -- Guard -- 5'11"
She's keeping it in-state by going to Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa after playing for Iowa City H.S. in (you guessed it) Iowa City, IA. Gathered the 2018 Miss Iowa Player of the Year Award and the Gatorade State Player of the Year. Ashley checks in at 26th. on the 2018 ESPN Hoop Gurlz list. Spelling of last name is correct but often referred to as Jones.
OLIVIA NELSON-ODOBA -- 2018 -- Post -- 6'5"
Excelled at Winder-Barrow H.S. in Winder, GA. Packing her bags for Geno and UConn this fall. Part of the 2018 USA Today and Naismith All-American Second Teams. Selected for the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic teams. Georgia Player of the Year.
Ranked #5 on the 2018 ESPN Hoop Gurlz Super 60.
ANAYA PEOPLES -- 2019 -- Guard -- 5'10"
The lone ACC prospect on the squad, Anaya played for Schlarman H.S. in Danville, IL. She's verbally committed to Muffet McGraw and Notre Dame for the 2019-20 season. As a junior, she received the 2018 USA Today Player of the Year award and was on the First Team. Her 16.9 poiants per game helped her high school team win the Illinois 1A title.
SEDONA PRINCE -- 2018 -- Post -- 6'7"
The tallest player on the roster, she played at Liberty Hill H.S. in Liberty Hill, TX. She'll stay in the Lone Star state and perform for Texas in the Big 12. Honors include the 2018 Naismith All-American Second team, 2018 Jordan Brand Class and McDonald's squads. Played on the 2016 USA U 17 World Cup Squad and 2015 USA U 16 team. #3 Hoop Gurlz.
NALYSSA SMITH -- 2018 -- Forward -- 6'3"
Heading to Kim Mulkey's Baylor Bears in the fall, Nalyssa play her high school bass at East Central in Converse, TX. Picked for the McDonald All-American and Jordan Brand Classic squads. A USA Today First Team Selection. Second Team Naismith All-American. ESPN Hoop Gurlz has her as the #13 overall player.
CHRISTYN WILLIAMS -- 2018 -- Guard -- 5'11"
Out of Little Rock, AR. where she played for Central Arkansas Christian H .S...Christyn heads to Storrs, CT for a Connecticut Huskies jersey this fall. A three-time Gatorade Player of the Year recipient in Arkansas. Was on the 2017 FIBA 3x3 squad that won the gold medal. ESPN Hoop Gurlz has her at #1 in the 2018 rankings.
As you can tell, tons of talent for Walz and the assistant coaches to use. The games will be available for watching on YouTube.com/user/FIBAWorld.
In a friendly scrimmage Monday night in Mexico City, USA defeated Canada 72-42. Walz played all 12 on the roster and Rhyne Howard led the scoring with 14 points.
"I thought it was great - some encouraging things happened. It was nice to get a chance to compete against another team. I thought we did some really good things and we got better in areas -- but, we still have some growth to do. We got a chance to run some things and a chance, depending on how they guarded us, to see how our kids would read what the next pass should be. We'll be able to take this one and grow from it. It gave us some confidence."
Confidence. Something that should surely build as the USA U 18's work their way through Pool play and onto, hopefully, another gold for USA Basketball.