Basketball A Family Affair For Imani Stafford
Colorado Springs, Colo. ē May 19, 2012
Imani Stafford is no stranger to USA Basketball. She was a member of the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team that won gold in France and was named to the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team, but was forced to withdraw from the team after suffering an injury.
In addition to her personal experience, her mother, Pamela McGee, won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics and her aunt, Trisha Stafford, played for USA Basketball at the 1990 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival and the 1993 World University Games. Her brother, JaVale McGee, is also a basketball standout as a center for the Denver Nuggets. ††
After the first day of trials, the 2012 McDonaldís All-American sat down with USABasketball.com to talk about her motivation for making this team, in addition to the role basketball plays in her family.
How frustrated were you to have to withdraw from the U19 team last summer?
Not only did I miss a chance to go to Chile, and they won a gold medal, and I missed my whole junior summer, so it was just a loss all around.
Does missing on that experience provide extra motivation for you at this yearís trials?
Yes that does provide extra motivation. I didnít have the best season this year; I blew that opportunity. This is one Iím not really willing to blow, so I have extra motivation for that.
How have you improved and matured as a player over the past year?
I think the coaches that are watching me play can answer that better than me, but I think as a person Iíve matured a lot as far as responsibility and caring about other people than myself. Thatís something that comes with age. Being more of a leader on and off the court; Iíve always been talkative but now Iím trying to lead on and off the court.
On whether making USA Basketball teams in the past gives her more confidence?
Honestly, I donít think Iíve ever wanted to make a team as much as I do this one, so Iím more nervous than Iíve been the past two years. Experience means nothing.
What are your early impressions of these trials after the first two sessions?
For me, Iím getting good feedback, but Iím my hardest critic. I donít like the way that I played in the scrimmage. Weíve got four more sessions, so hopefully Iíll come back strong.
With your mother having the basketball background she has, how is your household different than most other players?
I think the difference between me and every other player is my mother has her real gold medal. Itís definitely a competition. High standards.
Your brother had a few big performances in the NBA Playoffs; how much fun was it to watch him excel on that stage?
Very proud of that kid; I am so proud of him. The Denver Nuggets are a great organization for him and heís doing great. Hopefully he gets picked up and stays there. Iím just really proud and hopefully I can come home saying I made the team.
Do you try to model your game after your big brother at all?
I actually do. I fathom myself at my peak, Iíd like to be a mix of JaVale McGee and Dirk Nowitzki. Thatís what I would love to be. Iíd be the happiest person in the world. My brotherís my hero.