menu close twitter facebook snapchat instagram youtube article basketball gallery graph left-arrow right-arrow search star trophy video net clipboard shield-check shield-star stopwatch filter reset Share




Shop Now USA Basketball

Hamson Returns To Hardwood To Compete With Women's National Team

  • Author:
    Taylor Bern
  • Date:
    May 5, 2015

Las Vegas, Nevada

Day 1 Practice Report

• VIDEO: Day 1 Highlights

An invitation to this week’s USA Basketball mini-camp wasn’t part of center Jennifer Hamson’s plan. Neither was pro basketball in the WNBA or, at one time, basketball at all.

A volleyball star from a family full of them, Hamson at first went to the hardwood in ninth grade reluctantly. Her mom was a star basketball player at BYU and one of 17 finalists for the 1984 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team, but two aunts and an uncle were Division I volleyball players, so when Hamson started dominating in both she put off choosing and continued each sport at BYU.

Hamson, who’s 6-foot-7, knew eventually she’d have to pick a career in one or the other and that decision came in February when she signed with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, almost a year after they drafted her. Basketball felt right, and getting a surprise invite to her first camp with the USA Basketball Women's National Team months later only solidified those feelings.

“This is something that I wanted to build up to eventually so it’s exciting that they want to see me so soon,” Hamson said.

Hamson is one of three players at this week’s three-day mini-camp who’s not officially a member of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team player pool. The others are guard Jewell Loyd, the top pick in April’s WNBA Draft, and guard Tiffany Mitchell, a junior at South Carolina.

Certain absences created the need for more bodies in camp, which in turn opened the door for these players who could one day play a role in the future of USA Basketball.

“I was kind of shocked just to have my name associated with some of these players,” Mitchell said. “It’s a huge honor.”

As talented as they are, head coach Geno Auriemma said it’s not too difficult to pick out those who are just getting their feet wet in the organization. It’s more about confidence than a matter of age.

“They’re a little bit antsy, not too sure of themselves,” he said.

Forward Breanna Stewart is only a month older than Mitchell and still in college at Connecticut, but she’s already a two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year and a member of the 2014 USA World Championship team. As a result, Stewart works in more seamlessly than the players of a similar age who are getting their first shot at practicing with the nation’s best.

The good news for the newbies is that not everyone in Auriemma’s camps is held to exactly the same standard.

“I always tell them to act your age,” Auriemma said. “If you’re a pro, be a pro. If you’re a college kid, I don’t expect you to be a pro, so I’m judging you a little different than I do others.”

While Hamson is technically a pro, she has yet to play a pro game. Her collegiate basketball career ended in the Sweet Sixteen of the 2014 NCAA Tournament with a loss to Auriemma and Stewart’s Huskies, but Hamson stayed at BYU for her final volleyball season, which didn’t end until December’s loss in the national championship match.

Only after all of that ended did Hamson choose a life filled with basketball nets over the volleyball version, giving USA Basketball a shot-blocking weapon who will continue to develop as the years go on. 

Hamson’s last competitive basketball game was more than a year ago, so she knew it could be a rough transition from training to training with the best players in the country. All of that is fine, because even if she struggles here, she’s still here, and that’s better than she had ever planned.

“It’s a little overwhelming because everyone is so good here,” Hamson said, “but it’s exciting to have this chance and this opportunity to grow and hopefully become a part of this program later on.”

Related Videos

Dawn Staley, playing in her third Olympic Games, was elected by her peers - all U.S. team captains - to carry the flag and lead the U.S. delegation into the 2004 Opening Ceremony. She reflects back on her selection and what it meant to her.

Several notable athletes on the USA National Team sat out most, if not all, of the 2019 WNBA season and are gearing up to get back on the court with their pro teams as the league launches the 2020 season.

USA Basketball National Team standouts Nneka Ogwumike and Napheesa Collier offer their thoughts and insights to seven of the nation's best collegiate athletes in USA Basketball's first Junior National Team panel discussion.

The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team overcame a 16-point deficit in a 74-68 win over Canada on Sept. 8, 2018 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The USA outscored Canada by 18 points in the final two quarters to avoid its first loss on home soil since a 65-64 exhibition defeat at the University of Tennessee on Nov. 7, 1999.

Four years ago, after the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team had been together for less than a week and played one exhibition against the USA Select Team (a game that will be re-aired in two weeks), the USA squad traveled from Los Angeles to Newark, Delaware, for an exhibition game against France. Tina Charles finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists, and the U.S. used a potent second half performance to seize an 84-62 victory.

The home of the Blue Hens also was home to Elena Delle Donne during her collegiate career. It was where during her four years, she helped lead UD to a 104-32 record (.765 winning percentage), the 2013 NCAA Sweet Sixteen, 2012 NCAA second round, a pair of WNITs, two Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles and two CAA tournament crowns.

Related Content

Arike Ogunbowale paced all scorers in EuroLeague play this week at a clip of 23.0 points per game. She and six other USA National Team members wrapped up the league's first hub of the season.

With Geno Auriemma on the sidelines, USA teams have won seven gold medals.

Brittney Griner has won three gold medals and compiled a 34-2 record in a USA Basketball jersey.

The dynamic duo of Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart were the one-two punch that helped lead the Seattle Storm to a fourth WNBA title – all four of which featured Bird.

Seimone Augustus has won seven gold medals with USA Basketball.

Coach Licensing & Organization Accreditation Login

Forgot Password?