Additional Quotes >> 2012 USA U18 National Team Announcement
Colorado Springs, Colo. • May 12, 2012
What do you think of this team?
I love it. I think itís an unbelievable roster with great balance. The committee did a fantastic job of really thinking through situations, scenarios and needs for an international game. What a great group of kids. Iím fired up.
Do you like the versatility?
I think one thing thatís going to be great is the swing position. Weíve got nice length in the swing position, the three-fours are real long. Weíve got some great shooters. Then, some physicality in the post, with some point guards who push the tempo. So, itís a dream roster for me. Iím really, really thrilled.
Youíre getting together in a week in Orlando. Are you excited about getting started?
I canít wait. It was fun to be at the trials, but also as a coaching staff we were just waiting to get our hands on them and put our stuff in and really coach them. Weíll get a great opportunity in Orlando. Thatís just a gift for us, to make sure we get ourselves familiar with each other. The competitiveness of this team, their nature, their demeanor, besides their talent, itís just who they are as people and their character. Weíre blessed we get a chance to work together.†
Committee Chair Sue Donohoe
It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court. Itís not so much about taking the 12 best players, itís taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials some players stepped forward, some players step back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S.
On the team:
I think this team is strong in many facets. I think we will be very strong on the perimeter Ė weíve got kids that can pull-up and shoot the jumper and kids that can put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. We are going to be strong in the paint. Really, I think weíve put together a blend of kids that have a multitude of talents. Very athletic, very court savvy and certainly in international play, that will be very helpful to us.
Lexie Brown (North Gwinnett H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.)
What kind of emotions were going through your head throughout this morning?
Just nerves. I was just nervous. I know when I walked in here I was one of the last people in, and everyone was just sitting there and it was just serious. The mood was so serious and I was so nervous, but when they called my name a sigh of relief came over me. Iím so happy I canít even explain it.
What do you feel you did this weekend to have the committee pick you?
I think I ran the point guard well. I think I can bring the leadership and keep the tempo and make sure everyone is where theyíre supposed to be. Not really worry about scoring, but make sure everyone gets the ball and whoeverís hot gets the ball and whoever is doing what theyíre supposed to be doing gets the ball and keep the peace.
How nerve-racking was it to go against 31 of the top players in the country?
I was so nervous but after the first day, I knew I could keep up with these girls. I mean, I think there were 10 or 11 McDonaldís All-Americans and I was like, ĎHow am I going to compete with these girls?í But after I saw them playing and I got in my rhythm, it wasnít as nerve-racking as when I first got here.
Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony H.S. / Carson, Calif.)
What kind of emotions went through your head when you heard your name?
I didnít know. I wanted to cry, but then I smiled. My heart dropped. It was crazy.
What do you think about this team and how well do you know your teammates?
I actually donít know them very well because I was always with the U17 team. I guess now is my chance to get to know them.
After not making the U17 team yesterday, how does it feel to now make the final U18 roster?
Yesterday, not making the team, I cried and cried. Then, I came out here with every intention of making the team this time.
You were given the option of going home after not making the U17 team, was there any doubt about participating in the U18 trials?
There was, but I knew that it would be better for me to try out for this team, so I did it.
What do you feel you did over the last day and a half to impress this committee?
I rested. I took my time, I was patient. I did what I knew I could do.
Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S. / Clarksville, Tenn.)
How does it feel to make the 2012 USA U18 FIBA Americas Championship Team?
It means a lot. Iím excited, and Iím kind of shaking right now. Itís a great opportunity, and Iím glad they picked me. I just did my best, and I made it.
How do you feel your trials went?
I think I was up and down the first day. I was very unsure of myself and kind of nervous. The second day, I did a lot better. The third day, I kind of thought I was slacking a little bit, but I worked hard.
What did you think about having six extra people to compete against after six players that didnít make the U17 team were added to the U18 trials?
When I saw there were three post players, I was like, ĎWell, maybe they will pick one of those people because they moved them up and saw something in them when they tried out for the U17 team that they wanted on the U18.í But luckily, I still came out and competed and got a spot.
What do you think you bring to this team that will help them win a gold medal?
Rebounds and hard work. Getting on the boards, basically, and getting up the floor. Everything I do, I just work hard with it.
What does it mean to be able to represent your country?
Itís amazing and exciting. I canít wait to go to Puerto Rico and be with my teammates. Luckily I know all of them, so itís all good.
Allisha Gray (Washington County H.S. / Sandersville, Ga.)
How did it feel when you heard your name called?
It felt great. Even though I got cut from the U17s, when I learned that I was going to try out for the U18s, I was like, ĎIím leaving it all on the court.í I guess the result was that I made the team, so I think I did pretty well.
Did you feel like you had played well?
Iíll say that the last session was my best session out of all the sessions. Yesterday, I was a little nervous, like, Ďwhat do I do,í but this session I felt so great. I was sprinting, leaving it all on the court and keeping it positive.
Was it difficult to try out for the U18s after missing the cut for the U17 team?
It was tough, but you had to get over it. I was happy that my name was one of the six that got another opportunity. I knew I was going to try my best, and I made the team, so Iím so happy.
What does it mean to you to wear the USA jersey and represent your country?
Itís going to feel so great. Iíve never gotten to represent the USA before, and Iíve never been outside of the United States, so itís going to be so fun.††††††††††††††††††††††
Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Assocciation / Glenn Heights, Texas)
What was it like as you were waiting to hear your name called?
Honestly after being through it so many times, I kind of just blacked out. I didnít even know they called my name until somebody hit my leg and I was like, ĎThank God.í I think making it is a big honor, so Iím happy.
After trying out for previous USA Basketball teams without making the final roster, how rewarding was it to be named to the 2012 USA U18 FIBA Americas Championship Team?
Itís amazing because you donít make it time after time after time, and you keep coming back. To finally make it, you have this big reward. Iím lost for words actually right now.
How excited are you to travel and spend the summer with this team?
Iím extremely excited. We get to represent our country now, so itís not about us, itís about the team and about the USA.
What does it mean to you to be able to represent your country?
Itís an honor. You see all these people that came to try out, and many more would have loved to be here, so just to get a chance to play on the team is amazing.
Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Holmdel, N.J.)
What was it like waiting for your name to be called?
I donít even know how to explain the feeling. You work so hard and just to be a member of these trials is a great experience.
How does it feel to be named to the 2012 USA U18 FIBA Americas Championship Team?
It means everything. Iíve put my heart and soul into this game and finally my hard work is paying off. Iím so happy right now.
How excited are you to travel with this team?
Iím so excited because I know most of these girls, but some of them I donít. Just to get to know them and play in Florida, Puerto Rico, everywhere, is an amazing experience. Iím really excited.
What does it mean to be you to represent your country?
Everything. Weíre just going to go down there, represent and come out with the gold.
Alexis Prince (Edgewater H.S. / Orlando, Fla.)
What does it feel like to be named to the 2012 USA U18 FIBA Americas Championship Team?
It means a lot to me. I was just hoping that they would call my name. I donít really believe it. I worked hard to be here, but Iím just happy to hear my name.
How excited were you to hear your name called?
I just put my head down when they called my name, like, ĎDid they really call my name?í Hard work really pays off. If you just go out and play hard, theyíll notice.
How much are looking forward to being able to travel with this team?
Iím really excited because I like hanging with the girls. Theyíre all cool. It will just make the trips even more fun.
What does it mean to you to be able to represent your country?
Thatís always been a goal of mine, and this is just the first step. I always wanted to play for USA Basketball, and to finally get a chance, Iím not going to take it for granted.
Imani Stafford (Windward School / Los Angeles, Calif.)
Earlier this week you mentioned youíve never wanted to make a team more; now that youíve made this team, what does that feel like?
Itís a culmination to a bad year, so Iím happy to bounce back. Itís redemption. I worked hard for it, so it makes me feel good. Iím in the gym everyday with my trainer for this exact moment. Second chances are amazing.
How did you feel waiting for your name to be called?
I was scared as heck because they called two post players before me who are like me. I was really nervous, but then they called my named and I breathed because I hadnít been breathing the whole time.
What does it mean to you to represent your country?
Any time you step on that court wearing anything USA is an honor. The fact I made the final team just makes it even better. I just want to go out, play hard and get ready for college. Hopefully weíll bring back the gold.
How excited are you to travel to Orlando and Puerto Rico?
Iím excited. Iím still not breathing correctly right now, so I canít really tell you, but Iím just really excited. Iím excited to go to Orlando, hopefully we get to see Disney World this time and go to Puerto Rico, Iíve never been.
Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.)
Were you nervous before the team was announced?
I was a little nervous, but I was confident as well. I thought trials went well, and I definitely finished on a strong note. Iíve been through trials before, so Iím kind of used to the suspense.
What does it mean to wear a USA jersey with a fourth USA Basketball team?
It definitely is special. It will always be special because you are representing your country. I am getting more comfortable with international basketball and the whole process, though, because Iíve been here so many times. I love it.
Playing for a USA Basketball team requires time and commitment, what keeps you coming back?
You have to just keep working hard at getting better. Colorado Springs has the altitude, so you want to be in the best shape possible. And youíre not guaranteed a spot, you have to show the committee that you deserve a spot on the team.
Brittney Sykes (University H.S. / Newark, N.J.)
How do you feel you played at trials?
I feel though the sessions I played extremely well. I fought through it, and my mental (focus) is what got me through it.
Were you nervous this morning?
No, I wasnít nervous during the session. I was actually more determined to play hard and show the coaches that I deserve to be on this team. But sitting between (Morgan) Tuck and Breanna (Stewart) before the team was announced, there were like, Ďcalm down.í Iím just so overwhelmed. Itís amazing.
You have some tears in your eyes Ė tears of joy I assume. How does it feel to make this team?
Itís priceless. Iím just so proud to go back home and tell them I made it.
Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Were you nervous this morning before they announced the team?
I definitely was nervous. I know Iíve been here before, but still there are all these great players here competing. I was definitely nervous.
Did you feel like you had played well at trials?
I think I did pretty well. There are always things that I wish I had done better, but overall it was a pretty good showing.
How does it feel to make a third USA Basketball team?
I feel great. I love being able to represent the USA and to go out and compete against different countries and get to know the players that are on the team.
Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. Randallstown, Md.)
Were you nervous this morning before they announced the team?
I was nervous a little but, but I kind of knew that last nightís session was more important than this morningís session, just because that was my first session playing with the U18s and also, there was only like 30 minutes between the last session and the team announcement, so I figured they already had some sort of concept of what the team was going to be, so I knew that I had to play hard this session, but especially last nightís session.
What did it feel like when you heard your name?
It was like a weight off of my shoulders, like I could just exhale. Especially since I didnít hear my name for the U17 team, it was very relieving to hear it this time.
What does it mean to you to represent your country for a second time after playing on the 2011 USA Basketball Womenís U16 team?
Itís really an honor to play for your country and compete for a gold medal.