Napheesa Collier’s Final Tune Up
In just a few weeks, Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) will step onto the University of Connecticut campus, where she will be a student-athlete as a member of the women’s basketball team.
With that in mind, she is aware that her summer experience with the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 Championship Team has the added bonus of serving as a final tune up.
“This is the last thing I am doing before I get into an actual college experience,” Collier said. “I have been doing individual (workouts), but it is not the same as a team practice.”
Similar to what she will experience as a freshman in college, Collier joined a new team – her third USA Basketball team – for the start of training camp on June 30.
“I was on the U18 team last year, so I know some of the girls here. It is cool to meet the other girls. Some of them were on the U17 team (last year), but not all of them. I like meeting new people. I like all of them.”
The team trained at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado for eight days. During that time, Collier was able to discuss the transition to college with teammates.
“We all compare stories. It is cool to see that everyone’s college experience is different from yours.”
Collier also listened to the stories of USA head coach Dawn Staley, who during for her four years at the University of Virginia (1989-92), her teams compiled a 110- 21 record for a sparkling 83.9 winning percentage. As a USA Basketball team member, Staley won a total of 10 gold medals, including three Olympic and two FIBA World Championship gold medals, one bronze medal and seven international titles from 1989-2004.
“She tells us a lot of things that people will be looking for in the future, what college coaches are looking for and what people are looking for with the Olympic teams. Because she has been through it, she gives us little tips.”
From watching and listening, Collier learned a few keys to playing collegiately.
“I think conditioning is a big deal, especially here, it is hard to stay in shape. I am going to work on that a little bit.
“I want to be stronger in college play. It is different from high school in that everyone is strong, everyone is skilled and they know the game better. I want to get smarter too.”
Collier is hoping she is able to utilize what she learned at training camp in the summer and beyond as she did with the 2014 USA Youth Olympic Games Team and USA U18 National Team.
“I was gone a lot last summer for 3x3 and U18, it was different. It is cool. I liked it. I learned a lot.”
The team that will compete in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship will travel to Murcia, Spain for a July 12-14 tournament against U19 national teams from Australia, Canada and Spain. Following the exhibition tournament in Spain, the 2015 USA U19 World Championship team will seek to capture a sixth-consecutive gold medal July 18-26 in Chekhov, Russia.
You can follow the 2015 USA U19 World Championship Team throughout its journey on Twitter at #USABwu19.