2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11
2014 USA 3x3 National Championship
Colorado Springs, Colo.
May 9-11

Amir Coffey Hopes To Make USA Basketball A Family Affair

May 31, 2013 • Colorado Springs, Colo.

Last weekend it was Nia Coffey who was competing for and earning a roster spot on the 2013 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team. This weekend, just a few days later, it is her younger brother, Amir Coffey, who is battling for a USA jersey at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo.

One of 30 members of the 2013-14 USA Basketball Men’s Developmental National Team (DNT), Amir is competing to earn one of 12 roster spots on the squad that will represent the USA at the 2013 FIBA Americas 16 Championship in Maldonado, Uruguay.

“It would mean the world,” Amir said of his quest to make the USA U16 team. “It tells you how hard you are working and that your hard work is paying off. It would mean so much. It’s only 12 players that get selected, and they started from like 30 players, so it would mean a lot.”

Of course, after participating in trials and making the USA Basketball U19 Team, Nia had some advice for her brother.

“Be confident in your game, just do what you do,” Nia said. “Don't try to be anyone else, just do what you do best because that's why you’re here. Just be confident and believe in yourself.”

Fortunately, the entire Coffey family has a wealth of experience from which to draw. Amir’s father, Richard Coffey, played basketball at the University of Minnesota and with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. His oldest sister, Sydney, is a rising sophomore who plays basketball at Marist College, and Nia is on her way to Northwestern University in the fall.

Nia Coffey
Nia Coffey earned a spot on the 2013 USA
Basketball Women's U19 World Championship
Team just this past weekend at the U.S. Olympic
Training Center.
(Steven Maikoski/USA Basketball)

“My dad, he played for the Timberwolves for years, so he started us off,” Nia said. “I actually ran track. Both of my siblings, my sister Sydney and Amir, they both played basketball. I kind of wanted to spend more time with them. We got in the gym, and it started off like that.  Being so competitive, we pushed each other to get where we are today. That's kind of how it started off.”

Amir tells a similar story of their childhood.

“We did a lot together,” Amir said. “We were always in the gym. We were competitive, so at the gym we were arguing and everything, but we just wanted the best for each other. When we got home we would go to the park or go play outside, so we did a lot together.

“We are definitely a support system for each other.”

Confident in his sister’s game, Amir still couldn’t help but wonder how things were going for her last weekend.

“I was nervous, just because I wanted her to make the team so bad, but I knew that she belonged out here, everybody belongs out here if you get called,” said Amir. “So, I was nervous, but I knew she belonged here, and I just wanted the best for her.”

This weekend, Amir and 23 other players who also attended the DNT’s mini-camp at the USOTC in October of 2012, have some experience from which to draw.

“It was very helpful, seeing all of the talent here,” Amir said of last October’s DNT mini-camp. “It helped me see that I have to keep working hard. The drills we went through, I took them home and kept working hard, so it was very helpful.

“The coaches are great,” Amir added. “They help you. They want the best for you, so they give you tips constantly. It would help anybody.”

That help came at the perfect time for many of those players, including Amir, who was heading into his freshman season at Hopkins High School (Minn.) in 2012-13.

“It was exciting because I was starting varsity – that’s always exciting,” Amir said of his first year of high school. “It was a long-time goal for me, and I was happy. I kept working hard. It didn’t end well because we didn’t win state, but we just got to get back at it next year.”

Coming into this weekend, the 6’6” shooting guard said he was ready for the fatigue that comes with training in Colorado Springs, which sits above 6,000 feet.

“I worked out, since the air up here gets you tired, I did sprints and worked out every day,” Amir said. “I tried to get my stamina up.”

On top of conditioning, Amir is focused on his work ethic and showing off his strengths.

“Just play hard, play my game. Don’t worry about last plays, just keep moving and play ball,” Amir said of what he hopes to accomplish. “I’m a pass-first guy. I don’t look for my shot as often as I should. I should shoot more, but I like passing – making the right pass, making the extra pass. The guy in the corner, I’ll make a great pass to him. My strength is passing, but I need to be working on everything, defense, shooting, dribbling.”

In a few days the Coffey family will find out whether they will have one or two family members in a U-S-A jersey this summer, and regardless of the outcome, they already are proud.

“It means a lot that we both got invited to USA Basketball because it shows how hard we are working, how we prepared to get here.” Amir said. “It means the world because not many people, only like 31 players got invited. It tells you that your hard work is paying off, and you just got to keep getting better and stay humble.”

Now, it’s Nia’s turn to await the outcome as her brother battles the best-of-the-best in his age group.

“That would be amazing (if we both made a team),” Nia said. “Just being two family members on a USA team would be absolutely unheard of. So, that would be really cool. I hope that happens.”