Malina Howard Taking Advantage Of Late Invitation
Colorado Springs, Colo. • July 12, 2011
Malina Howard didn’t expect to be on the USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team roster, as she wasn’t selected as a finalist after May’s trials. However, she was grateful for a phone call last week, asking her to return to Colorado Springs to train with the team before competing internationally in Chile next week.
Despite missing training last month in Orlando, Fla., and the first day of training camp Monday in Colorado Springs, Howard remains positive, and says that she will be ready to compete for a gold medal.
After all, the 6-4 senior from Twinsburg, Ohio, is familiar with USA Basketball and competing under international rules. Howard earned a gold medal last summer when the 2010 U18 National Team compiled a 5-0 record at the FIBA Americas Championship. There, she started all five games and averaged 6.8 ppg. and 5.8 rpg.
In three seasons of high school ball, Howard has racked up countless awards and honors, ranging from Miss Ohio Basketball and All-Ohio Division I first team to ESPN Rise Underclass All-American and USA Today All-USA first team.
Entering her senior season, Howard is already Twinsburg High School’s all-time leading scorer with 1,377 points. Additionally, she has poured in 923 career rebounds, 185 assists, 195 steals and 277 blocked shots. In three seasons, her school has compiled an impressive record of 70-6, capped off with a 27-0 record and a state championship in 2010-11.
Howard talked with USABasketball.com Tuesday after her first practice with the team.
How did you find out that you were being invited back to join the team?
I was at a camp and they tried to call me, but my phone was turned off. My mom was calling the parents that were at the camp, and finally, one of the parents came and got me. I talked with my mom and she told me.
What were your first thoughts when you found out you’d be competing with USA Basketball again?
I had known I was an alternate, so I knew there was a possibility, but when my mom told me I was really excited. I was upset about having to leave my AAU team, but this is such a great experience, so I’m excited to be here and be with the team and the same coaches as last year. It will be a fun time.
After missing training last month in Orlando, and the first day of practice on Monday, how are you adjusting to learning everything on the fly?
I feel a little behind, but they’re all helping me with the plays and the drills and how things go at practice. They’ve all been a great help so far.
You kind of know the routine, competing with USA Basketball last summer. What was that experience like?
It was a lot of fun. It was similar to what we’ll be competing in next week, but it was here in Colorado Springs and just a qualifier. We just grew close and were all good friends.
Does the opportunity to travel internationally make this one more exciting?
Yes, it’ll be my first time out of the country.
You’ve received countless awards and accolades during your high school career. What do those mean to you, does one stand out above the rest?
This year I was voted on by all of the coaches in Ohio the most outstanding player. That one meant a lot because it was voted on by all of the coaches I play against. I try to not let them get to me. I keep them out of my head. I just try to keep working hard so I can get more.
You own the most career points in your high school’s history. What type of honor is that? Do you remember when it happened?
It happened in our regional final game against a team that had beat us the past two years. They didn’t announce it; they didn’t tell me until two weeks after. But it’s good to know now. I have another year, so it will be good to get more points to add to it.
What was it like to go 27-0 and win state last season?
It was the best experience. My team, we were very close, so I think that had a lot to do with it. We were all best friends and got along real well. It was our coach’s dream to win a state championship. We all worked for it.
You noted that if it weren’t for basketball, you’d want to be a gymnast. It’s not often that basketball players want to be gymnasts. What is it about the sport that you like?
Just the way that they can move their body and be so flexible amazes me.
Did you ever compete in gymnastics?
When I was really little, but not very much.
You said that the most interesting place you’ve visited is Pikes Peak. When did you travel there?
It was last summer with the team. We rode up the train. It was really cold, but it was a lot of fun because we were with the coaches and the entire team.
What part of the USA Basketball experience are you most excited about?
Winning a gold medal.