WNBA

USA U19 Shines Bright at World Cup

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The USA women’s Under 19 team recently played a fantastic tournament. They displayed how much the game is growing and how talented the women’s game is. They dominated exhibitions, group play and the quarterfinal game. The team struggled a bit in the first quarter in the semifinal against Hungary, but got it going in the second and went on to coast to another victory. They beat Australia in a hard fought battle for win the gold medal. It was the ninth FIBA U19 team Gold Medal for the US.

They won their games by an average of 47 points. Every player brought something to the team and impacted the game in their own way, they have all been important.

Their team was filled with sophomores, incoming freshmen, and even one high school player. They seemed to have a lot of fun with one another as they made Tik Tok’s together and coach Cori Close made them sing a song if they left a belonging behind. It was a huge hit with the players and the families on social media.

Lauren Betts

The Stanford commit and only high school player was one of the most dominant players in the entire tournament. At just 17 years old and 6’7, Betts was a huge mismatch for every team the USA played. Her post game is polished for someone her age, and her defense is a elite. It seemed like anytime she got the ball, if she didn’t get fouled, it was going in. She averaged 11.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16.8 minutes per game while 64% shooting from the field.

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Sonia Citron

The incoming freshman at Notre Dame was one of the best players on the team. Her performance may have been a surprise to some. She did a great job of scoring in multiple ways and rebounding. She ran the floor well and gave good energy every time on the floor. Citron was named to the All Star Five of the tournament. The recognition and award was well deserved. She averaged 13.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals on 55% shooting. Notre Dame fans are already pumped with excitement to see her in the Irish green.

Caitlin Clark

Iowa’s prolific sophomore led the team in scoring, which isn’t a surprise to anyone. She did a great job of picking and choosing her spots. Clark didn’t finish every game as the scoring leader, but she was consistent with her scoring. She showed once again how good of a passer she is. Clark was named to the All Star Five, and named the Fiba U19 World Cup MVP,m. Clark was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14.3 points, 5.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds on a team-high 25.3 minutes per game.

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Amari DeBerry

The UConn freshman played spotty minutes, but did well when she played. DeBerry was willing and able to do whatever she was asked. She averaged two points and two rebounds in six minutes of play.

Sania Feagin

The South Carolina freshman played her role well. Her athleticism and speed was evident in many games. As the games went on, she got more comfortable. She averaged 5.6 points and five rebounds in 11.9 minutes of play.

Azzi Fudd

Uconn’s freshman phenom didn’t play in the exhibition games, but made her presence felt against Egypt with 18 points. Fudd shot 8-for-11 from three between that game and the next against Chinese Taipei. She averaged 23.7 minutes, nine points, three rebounds, four assists and 1.6 steals per game. UConn fans should be excited.

Diamond Johnson

A sophomore out of NC State, Johnson did a great job of playing the role of spark plug off the bench. Her handle caused opposing players issues, and her defensive instincts and quick hands were vital. She averaged 12.6 points, three assists and a team-high 2.3 steals in 21.5 minutes per game.

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Te-Hina Paopao

Oregon’s sophomore floor general did a fantastic job of running the offense and slowing the game down when needed. She did a great job of pushing the ball on the break and finding the open player running the floor. A good mix of tempo and running the offense Cori Close wanted. She averaged 9.1 points, four rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 22.6 minutes per game.

Jewel Spear

The Wake Forest guard was only able to play in the first game of the tournament. In that one game, she started and scored 14 points, dished out three assists and got two steals. She went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Payton Verhulst

Louisville’s freshman proved to be one of the most versatile players on the team. Able to play the forward, but also bring the ball up the floor off a rebound and find an open player. She has a lot of skill, and has yet to play a Division l basketball game. She averaged 8.3 points, six rebounds and 2.7 assists in 20.9 minutes per game. Louisville fans will love her.

Lauren Ware

The Arizona sophomore both started and came off the bench and did a good job rebounding and in the pick and roll. She even showed some skill moves in the post when given the opportunity. Ware was important for the team so there wasn’t too much pressure on the 17 year old Betts. She averaged six points and five rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game.

Jersey Wolfenbarger

The Arkansas freshman and one of the youngest players on the team. She showed some promise in the games she was able to get minutes in. The talent is there, but coming off an injury in high school and playing with a team loaded with talent. It was a good experience for her and also way for her to get game minutes without too much pressure. She averaged 1.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game.

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The U19 team was a blast to watch, they all rooted for each other’s success. Winning a gold medal together will forever build a bond with these young women. It will be fun to watch them continue to get better with their respective colleges (and high school) and compete against each other. We’ve got players like Verhulst and Citron in the same conference, as is Spear and Johnson. Verhulst will play Fudd and DeBerry this season. And you never know who will meet up in the NCAA Tournament. They are the future of the women’s game and this won’t be the last time they play for a gold medal.

About Tariq McDowell

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