Jan. 13, 2014
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 been named to the 2014-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team and (if the U.S. qualifies), the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected, it was announced Monday by USA Basketball.
McBride, who is one of six collegians in the 33-player pool, and Diggins both took part in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team mini-camp in Las Vegas Oct. 4-6, with that camp used to identify the players that will make up the National Team pool for the upcoming cycle. The duo are seeking to become the first Notre Dame players to compete with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team in either the FIBA World Championships or the Olympics since 2004, when Ruth Riley (’01) helped the Americans to a gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
“Being part of this group means so much,” McBride said. “It’s something you always think about, the opportunity to play with the best of the best, players like Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and so many others. To have had the chance to practice at the USA Basketball mini-camp was a blessing all to itself, but to be included with them as part of this player pool is humbling. It also motivates you to work even harder with the eye on potentially reaching that goal one day soon.
“I’ve always wanted to represent my country, and it’s definitely something I’ve dreamed about, going all the way back to when I was a teenager and I got my first USA Basketball camp invitation for the U18s before I even graduated high school,” McBride added. “When you get that first taste of USA Basketball, and then winning a gold medal like we did with the U18s, you have that added hunger and desire to get back there again. It’s something I’m aspiring to do, knowing that something like this might be possible in the near future.”
“This is such a blessing to be chosen for the USA Basketball National Team pool,” Diggins said. “I’ve had the privilege of representing my country on the international stage before and it’s one of the greatest thrills and honors a basketball player can receive. It’s even more gratifying to know that, together with Kayla, we’ll be competing with USA Basketball as representatives of Notre Dame and the South Bend community. It’s truly humbling to play on behalf of so many wonderful people who have been a part of our development, not only as players, but as young women.”
“What an exciting day for Kayla, Skylar and the entire Notre Dame women’s basketball program,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “It’s an incredible accomplishment to be selected as part of the pool of players that will represent our country on the biggest stages in the coming years. Both Kayla and Skylar competed very well during last October’s mini-camp and today’s selection is a reflection of the hard work and dedication they put in, not only during the camp, but throughout their careers. We couldn’t be prouder of both of them and are looking forward to see what the future holds for them with USA Basketball in the coming months and years.”
A third-team Associated Press All-America choice last year and a preseason all-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) pick prior to this year, McBride is one of three captains on the 2013-14 Notre Dame women’s basketball squad, currently ranking third in the ACC in three-point percentage (.455) and 13th in scoring (16.1 ppg.), while posting career-high averages in scoring, rebounding (5.6 rpg.), assists (3.5 apg.) and three-point percentage. She also is tied for team-high honors with four 20-point games this season, and for her career, she is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in free throw percentage (.878) while ranking 13th in school history with 1,445 career points.
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.
McBride is 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.
Most recently, Achonwa helped Team Canada earn a silver medal at the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico, averaging 7.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game with a .462 field goal percentage as Canada clinched a berth in the 2014 FIBA World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
Meanwhile, Diggins graduated last 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.
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.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director