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Marina Mabrey

Trials and Tribulations: Meeting Some Of the Women's U17 Players

  • Date:
    May 24, 2014

Colorado Springs, Colorado

There are 173 athletes gathered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, trying for a coveted roster spot on either the 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team or the 2014 USA U18 National Team. They come from all corners of the country with hopes and dreams of winning gold medals in a USA Basketball uniform, and each of them has her own story.

Here’s a look at a few of the participants, including Ty Battle, Lyneé Belton, Napheesa Collier, Liah Davis and Marina Mabrey.

Ty Battle (Joliet Catholic Academy/Plainfield, Ill.)
Ty, in the U17 trials, is participating in her first USA Basketball event. She’s here along with Joliet Catholic teammateNicole Ekhomu. She admitted to being “kind of nervous,” but is excited to use this experience as a learning experience, regardless of whether she makes the U17 World Championship Team or not.

Favorite thing about playing basketball: 
“I like meeting new people and playing with new players.”

Best advice received from a coach: 
“I don’t shoot a lot so they’ll tell me to shoot from outside a lot. And to work hard.”

Go-to move in a game of Horse: 
“Corner shot.”

Lyneé Belton (The Bulls School/Clinton, Md.) 
Lynee – who will play for Duke starting in the fall – is participating in her third USA Basketball trials and his hoping the third time will prove to be the charm.

“The first time was 16 and under,” she said. “I made it to the last cut but just didn’t make the team. The second time was 17 and under but I got hurt on the first day, so I couldn’t do the trials.”

She’s hoping her past experience here will help her this time. ”Since I’ve been here before, I know what to do and what not to do. I shouldn’t be that nervous because I’ve been here before and I’ve been on this stage. It’s the older group, so people look up to me and look at our trials group for an example of what they should be doing. So I want to lead by example … and make the team!”

Regardless of how she does at the trials, Lyneé is ready to start her college career at Duke this summer. “I’m looking forward to starting over with basketball, with academics, with friends. I’m starting over, a new beginning, so hopefully I’ll make a good reputation for myself.”

Favorite thing about playing basketball: 
“I like the adrenaline rush – getting a charge, making an ‘and one,’ just getting to the last minute of the game and knowing that you’ve got it.”

Best advice received from a coach: 
“I talked to my head coach at Duke (Joanne McCallie) right before I got here, and she told me just to turn any nerves I have into excitement … to lead and remember I’ve been here before so I know what to do. Make a good impression with my (two Duke) teammates. Hopefully we all make the team.”

Go-to move in a game of Horse: 
“I don’t play horse that much, but I’ll go for a crazy three.”

Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) 
This is Napheesa’s first time at team trials (U18), but she has played in the 2013 USA Basketball 3x3 National Championship and 2012 USA 3x3 U18 National Championship, so she is a little more comfortable at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

She’ll be a senior in high school this year, and has already committed to play for national champion UConn in 2015.

“Once I got on campus and started meeting the academic advisors, the girls and the coaches, it wasn’t a hard decision,” she said. “Because I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Favorite thing about playing basketball: 
“The competition. I’m really competitive. The winning and losing, the highs and lows, is just really exciting for me.”

Best advice received from a coach: 
“Probably that working hard is more important than talent, because I believe that 100 percent. If you have all the talent in the world but you’re not a hard worker, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Go-to move in a game of Horse: 
“Backwards shot – I always get people on that one. Backwards right in front of the basket.”

As a 3x3 veteran, we asked Napheesa who she’d choose if she could pick any two teammates for the 3x3 game. Her picks: 
“Kevin Durant and Maya Moore.”

Liah Davis (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sand Creek H.S.)
Liah participated last year as an applicant for the 2013 U16 trials. She returns this year for the U17 trials.

“My first experience was great,” she said. “I learned a whole bunch. When I didn’t make it, I took all the stuff that I learned and I’ve been working on it and I’ve improved this year and want to use all that stuff I’ve been working on and put it into this year.”

What stood out the most for Davis last year was the talent on hand. “The talent really stood out,” she said. “I got to play against some really experienced girls, and it made me better as a player.

“My expectations for this weekend are to work hard – work harder than I did last year.”

Favorite thing about playing basketball: 
“Just the playing in general and putting in the work that we have to do for it.”

Best advice received from a coach: 
“To always go hard and go all the way every single time I play.”

Go-to move in a game of Horse: 
“Where the elbow is on the court – straight jump shot or dribble into it.”

Marina Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Manasquan, N.J.) 
This is Marina’s first trip to a USA Basketball team trials, but her sister, Michaela, was here two years ago, made the USA U18 team and won a gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Michaela has since gone on to Notre Dame, and she’ll be a senior when Marina gets there as a freshman in 2015. Having been here before, Michaela did offer her sister advice for her trip to the U18 trials.

“She said make sure you play as hard as you can,” said Marina. “Make sure you’re clapping and communicating, getting your name out there and getting your name known for a reason, by communicating and wanting to be there.”

Favorite thing about playing basketball: 
“The competitiveness.”

Best advice received from a coach: 
“To play as hard as you can no matter what. Doesn’t matter if you’re losing by 20 or winning by 20. Play as hard as you can and give everything you have.”

Go-to move in a game of Horse: 
“Between the legs, crossover, stepback.”

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