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

USA Basketball Womenís U16 National Team Hopefuls Not Content

May 26, 2013 ē Colorado Spring, Colo.

And then there were 43.

Forty-Three is the number of athletes that remain at the United States Olympic Training Center, hoping to land a roster spot on the womenís U16 National Team. If an athlete is still on the roster now, theyíve clearly proven something to the selection committee as trials started with 124 players. But with one more cut still to go, the athletes arenít satisfied. Instead, they understand their level of production needs to continue rising.

As final cuts will be announced Monday morning, USABasketball.com spoke with a quartet of athletes that are still in the running of earning a final roster spot. Two of the players we chatted with, Erin Boley (Elizabethtown H.S./ Hodgenville, Ky.) and Raven James (Bullis School/Upper Marlboro, Md.) didnít receive invitations to trials but instead are attending as applicant athletes. The pair of others, Chelsea Dungee (Preston Public School/Okmulgee, Okla.) and Kysre Gondrezick (Benton Harbor H.S./Benton Harbor, Mich.) were two of the 32 that were invited by the USA Basketball Womenís Developmental National Team Committee. Regardless of how they got here, each said theyíre going to fight until the finish and let the ultimate outcome take care of itself.

Erin Boley

Erin Boley (Elizabethtown H.S./ Hodgenville, Ky.)
Youíve made it through the first three cuts. How are you feeling right now?
Iím feeling great. Itís really exciting; but Iím nervous also, you know? Thereís a lot of pressure.

What goes through your head each time you walk to the door where the cut numbers are posted?
Itís crazy. Itís really nerve-racking. But once you see that your number is up there, itís really exciting. Itís a really good feeling.

Whatís the biggest thing youíve learned over the last few days?
Definitely, the positive attitude. The atmosphere is amazing. I think that a lot of girls will be able to take away just the positivity of the whole atmosphere.

For you personally, what has been going well and what are still hoping to improve on this afternoon and tonight?
I think definitely being able to run the floor, and I guess just playing off the wing has been going really well for me.

Who do you feel has been the toughest player you have gone up against during trials?
I donít know. I couldnít say. Thereís a lot of tough competition here.

Have you gone back and evaluated how you played Saturday and Friday?
Yeah. Always.

Have any of your family members been in attendance to see you play during trials?
Yeah I came with my mom.

What does it mean to have her here watching you during this experience?
It means a lot. Sheís really supportive, and sheís got a lot of good advice to give. Iím really glad sheís here with me.

Chelsea Dungee

Chelsea Dungee (Preston Public School/Okmulgee, Okla.)
Youíve made it through the first three cuts. How are you feeling right now?
Iím feeling really good, but thereís a lot of competition. So, I just want to keep working hard.

What type of feeling goes through your head each time you walk to the gym door and see the cut numbers that are posted?
I just get really, really nervous and just hope that I make it. But thereís great competition out here. If I didnít make it, itís a great experience, and I learned a lot from it.

Whatís it been like seeing your number posted so far?
It feels great.

For you personally, what has been going well and what are you still hoping to improve on?
My defense has been going pretty well. My shot has been off, so I just want to try and fix that.

Do you feel like your defense is something that the committee has really noticed?
I feel like theyíve noticed my defense.

Who do you feel has been the toughest player youíve gone up against during trials?
Everybody has really stood out because thereís so many great players. Everybody is difficult, and everyone is around the same level.

How have you seen yourself improve these last few days?
Being able to speak to other players on the court Ė thatís just really helped me because thatís what theyíre looking for.

Were you not as vocal before you came here?
No. For the past two months, Iíve been working on trying to be more vocal.

Whatís been the biggest thing youíve learned at trials?
Iíve learned a lot. Just really, when I set picks, I set a lot of them, just really talking and letting everybody know to go high or low.

Have any of your family members been able to attend trials?
Yes. My mom and my stepdad are here.

What has it meant to have them here?
They help me, they encourage me and Iím just glad that theyíre here.

Kysre Gondrezick

Kysre Gondrezick (Benton Harbor H.S./Benton Harbor, Mich.)
Youíve made it through the first three cuts. How are you feeling right now?
Iím quite confident, yet Iím also nervous. Iím not hesitant with my play. I think Iím gaining more confidence, and Iím becoming more comfortable as each session goes along. So Iím just preparing to see what the outcome might be.

What type of feeling goes through your head each time you walk to the gym door and see the cut numbers that are posted?
Well to be honest, I donít go to the door. I call my mom and have her go. I get so nervous, and then sheíll give me a call saying, ĎHey you made it.í Then Iíll go run to the door. It definitely puts a lot of pressure on yourself. At first, it got in my head, and I had to learn how to be more comfortable. After having great mentoring and advice from Skylar and my mom, I sat down and reflected on the things I need to improve on. As the sessions go on, Iím doing just that.

Whoís Skylar?
Skylar Diggins.

Oh wow. Are you close to her?
Yeah weíre like sisters.

How do you know her?
I used to go to school in South Bend (Ind.). I used to attend LaSalle (Intermediate) Academy and at that time, she was in high school. We used to work out with each other, 6 a.m. workouts on a daily basis. My dad used to work all of us out, and we used to attend all of her games when she went to college, and we just followed her throughout the years. The first session, I didnít do too good, and my mom called her. I got a phone call from Skylar, and she chewed me out for an hour-and-a-half.

Was this after day one?
This was I believe yesterday, after the first morning session. It wasnít great to hear, but at the end of the day, it was great to hear because I needed that.

What do you feel is the biggest thing youíve learned here so far?
Iíve learned how to become more vocal. Skill-set wise, yeah, Iíve improved and picked up on some characteristics. But Iíve learned how to be more vocal. Iíve learned how to be more of a leader. Not just through my actions, but through my voice. I think thatís what I need to become a great basketball player at such a young age. Whether I make the team or not, I still need to use that characteristic. Not only here, but throughout my high school basketball team, AAU and later on, through college.

For you personally, what has been going well and what are you still hoping to improve on?
I think Iíve become a better teammate. Normally Iím like the scorer type of player, the playmaker. Yeah, Iíve hit shots here and there, created shots off the dribble, mid-range and made a couple of assists, but I think Iíve learned to just become a better teammate where my teammates not only trust me, but they actually like me. I think thatís a big, important thing to become a part of the team.

How have you seen yourself improve since the trials started? Would you say itís being more vocal on the court?
Yeah being vocal. Stepping up as a leader for my team. Basically, just not forcing too much and becoming more poised and patient in the right time and the right moment.

Do you have any family members that have been here in attendance at trials?
Yes. My mom came with me. Sheís the one who gives me all the information.

Whatís it been like having her here for this?
Itís definitely been a huge help. At first, I begged her to come. I was uncomfortable. Iíd never been on a plane and (knew I) was going to be jetlagged. I need my mom here. My dad is out of town at the moment training. But, itís definitely been a huge help. Sheís not only been my mom, sheís been my best friend. I think if she wasnít here, I wouldnít have that motivational speech that I needed for me to gain more confidence throughout the rest of the way here. †

Raven James

Raven James (Bullis School/Upper Marlboro, Md.)
Youíve made it through the first three cuts. How are you feeling right now?
I feel excited and more confident than I did before. I was kind of nervous being an applicant athlete. I wasnít invited, so I came here just showing them what I've got.

What type of feeling goes through your head each time you walk to the gym door and see the cut numbers that are posted?
Iím just ready for whatever. Iím really grateful having the opportunity to be here, because not a lot of people get this opportunity to actually make it here. So either way, Iím happy and proud of it. And if I didnít make it, it just gives me more motivation and stuff to work on.

Youíve obviously learned so much here, but is there one thing that stands out above everything else?
The mental part of the game as far as the cuts and plays, and how you really have to pay attention to details. All the little things matter, the things that people probably look past that they donít usually do.

Have you learned anything away from the court?
Yeah. Attitude is everything and to have eye-contact when youíre talking to somebody. Just everything off the court makes a big difference.

For you personally, what has been going well and what are you still hoping to build on moving forward?
I feel like my defense is going to push me farther throughout the trials. Just being that point-guard and making those right decisions. Just thinking smart and thinking the game. Not trying to make all those spectacular plays, but doing the little things that people probably wouldnít do.

You seem pretty fast on the court too. Have you always had quick speed?
Actually no. I havenít always been this fast. Iíve been working on it. Itís not always about fast. Iíve been learning about changing speed, quickness as a point-guard you have to have those things.

Do you feel like itís been a little bit of everything that the committee has noticed from you?
I think itís been a little bit of everything. I think itís more of what they want to see out of a point-guard. They donít want to see me score as much. They donít want that selfish point-guard. They want the person who is going to think, and make the right decision thinking.

Has there been an area in your game that youíve improved in most since the trials started?
I think my endurance. With the high altitude, I thought I was going to get tired easily. But I heard itís all a mental thing. So if I just keep thinking, ĎIím not tired, Iím not tired,í then I can keep going.

So the altitude hasnít affected you?
No. It hasnít affected me.

Have any of your family members been here in attendance during trials?
Yes, my mom and dad. Ron and Gina James.

What has it meant to have them here supporting you?
They said no matter what happens, whether my number is up there or not, theyíre still proud of me, and I have a lot of supporters back home that keep pushing me and keep sending me great message and (are) keeping my hopes high, just always thinking positive.

Are you planning to change anything up the rest of today or keep everything the same?
Probably going to pressure the defense up more and show them I canít get tired, show them those point-guard mentalities. But other than that, Iím going to keep it up and push it up another gear.† †