Sept. 26, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior All-America guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) and former Fighting Irish All-America guard Skylar Diggins (’13) are among 33 players who have accepted invitations to participate in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team mini-camp Oct. 4-6 at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. The camp is being used to identify players for the USA National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team will be chosen.
McBride, who is one of seven collegians on the 33-player camp roster, and Diggins will be the first Notre Dame players to compete with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team since 2004, when Ruth Riley (’01) helped the Americans to a gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
“I’m excited and honored to be part of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team camp,” McBride said. “I’m not sure it’s entirely sunk in yet, but it’s truly a blessing to be able to represent my family, friends, teammates and the whole University of Notre Dame community. I couldn’t imagine receiving this invitation without their love and support and I’m really looking forward to getting down to Las Vegas, reuniting with Skylar and both of us competing with some of best players in the world for the chance to wear our country’s colors.”
“We couldn’t be prouder of Kayla and Skylar,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “They are more than deserving of this selection, as they have both put in an incredible amount of time and effort, and this is a perfect example of the rewards that come from that kind of hard work. Both of them continue to be wonderful ambassadors for not only our program, but the entire University and city of South Bend, and we’re can’t wait to follow their progress at next weekend’s camp.”
Last year, McBride earned Associated Press third-team All-America honors and a spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America Team after averaging career highs of 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference pick and was named the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player after averaging 16.7 points per game, including a 23-point performance in the 61-59 championship game win at Connecticut, giving Notre Dame its first BIG EAST postseason title.
McBride is no stranger to USA Basketball, having earned a gold medal with the USA U18 National Team at the 2010 FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Colorado Springs. McBride started all five contests for Team USA in the tournament, averaging 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
When she arrives at the USA Basketball camp, McBride will be the second current Fighting Irish player to represent her country as part of its national team. Senior All-America forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) has been a mainstay with the Canadian Women’s National Team since 2009 and was a member of her nation’s Olympic squad in 2012, helping Canada to its first medal-round (quarterfinals) berth in 28 years.
Presently, Achonwa is with Team Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico, averaging 8.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game with a .464 field goal percentage to help Canada to a perfect 4-0 record in group play and a berth in the tournament semifinals at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Friday against Puerto Rico — the winner will qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Meanwhile, Diggins graduated in May as the program’s all-time leader in points (2,357) and steals (381), as well as a four-time All-American (the past two years as a consensus first-team choice). She was selected third overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft by the Tulsa Shock, becoming Notre Dame’s second draft lottery pick in as many years (only the second school to field lottery selections in consecutive seasons). The South Bend native then went on to become the first Fighting Irish player ever to earn WNBA All-Rookie Team honors after averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game (tops among all WNBA rookies in the latter two categories) and helping Tulsa to 11 victories, the franchise’s highest win total since moving to Oklahoma from Detroit in 2010.
Diggins is one of the most decorated players to come through the USA Basketball youth national team system in recent years, having earned five gold medals with USA Basketball squads since 2007. She also has been a co-captain on her last three gold medal-winning American squads, leading her teams to victory at the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship (a squad guided by current Fighting Irish associate head coach Carol Owens), the 2011 World University Games and the 2012 FIBA 3×3 World Championship. She started her international career by striking gold at the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival and the 2008 FIBA U18 Americas Championship.
The full USA Basketball Women’s National Team mini-camp roster and other information about the team can be found on the official USA Basketball web site at www.usabasketball.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— ND —