May 25, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the seventh time in nine years, Notre Dame will be represented at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials, as incoming freshman guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) has accepted an invitation from USA Basketball to compete in the USA Women’s U18 National Team Trials, which will take place June 8-11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Sue Donohoe, the NCAA’s vice president for Division I women’s basketball.
A total of 26 players ages 18-and-under (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) have been invited to take part in next month’s USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials, which will be used to select the 12-member team that will represent the United States at the eight-team FIBA U18 Americas Championship For Women, scheduled for June 23-27 in Colorado Springs. The 2010 USA U18 National Team will be coached by University of Hartford skipper Jennifer Rizzotti, with Florida State’s Sue Semrau and Central Florida’s Joi Williams serving on Rizzotti’s staff.
McBride was lauded by numerous national media outlets this past season, earning selections as a McDonald’s All-American, Parade Second-Team All-American, ESPN RISE Second-Team All-American, MaxPreps Fifth-Team All-American, Gatorade Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year and member of the 2010 ESPN Hoopgurlz All-Star Team. She also was ranked as one of the top 25 players in the nation in the Class of 2010 by both ESPN Hoopgurlz (20th) and All-Star Girls Report (22nd).
In March, McBride completed a stellar prep career at Erie’s Villa Maria Academy, where she sparked the Victors to a 28-2 record along with their second consecutive Pennsylvania Class AA state championship. McBride averaged 20.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.6 steals per game as a high school senior, including 29 points and 11 rebounds in the Pennsylvania Class AA title game win over York Catholic.
A two-time Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AA Player of the Year and three-time all-state selection (first team the past two years), McBride helped Villa Maria amass a 106-15 (.876) record with two state titles and a state runner-up finish (2007). In her four-year career, the 5-foot-11 wing averaged 14.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game, including 19.1 ppg., 9.8 rpg., and 4.4 spg. in her final two seasons (when VMA compiled a 55-5 record). She also graduated as VMA’s all-time leading scorer with 1,727 career points.
“We are very excited to follow Kayla’s progress as she competes at the USA U18 Trials next month,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for her and one that she has worked hard to earn. The experience she will gain through USA Basketball will be so valuable for her once she arrives on campus here at Notre Dame. We’re all behind her and look forward to seeing her continue the success in international competition that has been a tradition for the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program.”
Should McBride be selected for the final 12-member USA Women’s U18 National Team (which will be named on the morning of June 11 and remain in Colorado Springs to train prior to the start of competition on June 23), she would become the seventh Notre Dame women’s basketball player, and the fifth in seven years, to compete for the United States on the international level. Most recently, current Fighting Irish sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) served as co-captain on the gold medal-winning 2009 Women’s U19 World Championship Team that was led by recently-returned Notre Dame associate coach Carol Owens.
Ironically, Diggins and Owens also joined forces a year earlier on the last incarnation of the USA Women’s U18 National Team, which took the gold medal at the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championship for Women in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What’s more, Owens was an assistant coach with the 2006 USA Women’s U18 National Team that won gold the last time the FIBA U18 Americas Championship was held in Colorado Springs.
Other representatives of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program to compete on the world stage include: Melissa Lechlitner, who struck gold with the 2007 Women’s U19 World Championship Team (making Lechlitner the first South Bend-area female to earn a gold medal in international basketball competition), Megan Duffy, who claimed a gold medal as a co-captain and starter for the 2005 USA World University Games Team, and Ruth Riley, who was a member of the 2004 Women’s Senior National Team that won gold at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Riley also made prior USA Basketball appearances in 1998 (Select Team) and 1999 (World University Games Team), while former Irish All-Americans Katryna Gaither (two teams, two medals) and Beth Morgan (four teams, three medals) also have suited up for Team USA. All told, Notre Dame players (including incoming freshmen) have earned 11 medals in international competition, including six gold medals.
“I’m obviously excited to be working with these kids,” Rizzotti said. “You can see that they’re all the best of the best. Our goal is to find a group that will come together and help represent the United States in the tournament, and I’m looking forward to finding out who that’s going to be.”
On March 12, the draw for the 2010 FIBA U18 Americas Championship For Women was held, and the USA has been placed in Group B, along with Argentina, Brazil and Puerto Rico. After round-robin play from June 23-25, the top two teams in each of the two groups will advance to the medal round. The semifinals will be played on June 26, with the gold medal game slated for June 27 — all games will be played in Sports Center I at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifier, the FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Women was held every four years from 1988 through 2004, and is now contested every other year. USA women’s teams boast of a remarkable 33-2 overall record in the U18/junior qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.
“The committee is certainly excited to have this talented group of players from which to select our 2010 USA U18 Women’s National Team,” Donohoe said. “We have 26 talented athletes and depth at every position. It will be a competitive trials, and the USA will be well represented at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women.”
— ND —
NOTE: The full USA Basketball release on the Women’s U18 National Team Trials can be found by CLICKING HERE.