Asia Durr’s Journey To U16 Gold Medal, MVP Honors
Even playing on a team comprised of the best talent age 16-years-old-or-younger from across the country, Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic H.S./Douglasville, Ga.) stood out. And before she helped lead the USA to a gold medal and earned MVP at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Cancun, Mexico, Durr emerged as the USA's leader.
In three scrimmages during training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., Durr averaged a team-best 14.0 points per game. Not only did she score, she led the team in assists as well, dishing out 13 dimes. Those numbers, however, still weren't indicative of the leader she would be for the USA at 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship that was played June 19-23 in Cancun, Mexico.
"Asia was a catalyst for us, both handling the basketball and defensively, and then finishing," said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.) after the gold-medal win. "She really sparked us. She scored a run of double figures at one point by herself (in the gold-medal game). Pretty amazing."
From game one, Durr left her mark in the USA U16 single-game record book. In the USA's first game against Brazil on June 19, she led the USA with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point, and a USA U16 record 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
“My teammates passed me the ball,” Durr said following the win, “and I was wide open, so I shot and it went it. It was a lot of fun.”
In the USA's 98-28 win over Argentina on June 20, Durr again propelled the USA, this time with 23 points and six rebounds, and she made 7-of-10 from the free throw line to set a USA U16 record for free throws attempted.
Facing Costa Rica the following day, in the team’s final game before the medal round, Durr contributed 12 points and two assists.
Scheduled to meet Mexico in the medal semifinals, Durr produced on the offensive and defensive end, finishing the game with 11 points and four steals as the USA cruised into the gold medal game.
Just needing one more win to accomplish its goal, the USA faced Canada in the gold medal game on June 23. With the USA leading by just one with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter, Durr fueled a 12-0 run that broke the game wide open. She would finish with a game-high, and USA U16 record 26 points to go along with eight steals (another USA U16 record) on her way to being awarded tournament MVP.
While earning Most Valuable Player honors, finishing with the most points by a USA U16 athlete, and winning a gold medal were all special achievements, Durr isn’t content. She notes that she still needs to improve her strength as the summer progresses on.
“There were times when in a game I got shoved around a little bit,” she said. “I learned that I need to become stronger because there were some girls that were stronger than me, and they’re in the same grade as me. I need to become a stronger basketball player.”
When Durr arrived back home in Douglasville, Ga., on Monday she had a crowd of family and friends waiting for her at the airport. To her surprise, her supporters had made her congratulatory signs. The excitement toward winning a gold medal was heartfelt and will continue to be in the coming weeks as she plans a celebration with close family and friends.
“I think this experience made me a better basketball player,” Durr said. “Different coaches and new teammates, it taught me a lot.”