2016 Women’s 3x3 U18 World Championship Team Preview
The 2016 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 World Championship Team has only a few days remaining until embarking on a journey to Astana, Kazakhstan, in search of a gold medal. After last year’s USA team won silver at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championships, the 2016 team is hoping to reclaim gold and improve the USA’s all-time overall mark of 49-6.
With 20 teams, including the United States, competing in this year’s 3x3 U18 World Championship, the USA’s team of Jaelyn Brown (Vista Murrieta H.S./ Murrieta, Calif.), Sidney Cooks (St. Joseph Catholic Academy/ Kenosha, Wis.), Amber Ramirez (Karen Wagner H.S./ San Antonio, Texas), and Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./ Chesterfield, VA) understand the importance of building the best possible chemistry before tournament play begins. The USA 3x3 U18 squad tips off its opening game against the Netherlands on June 2.
Behind any cohesive team is a solidified point guard serving as the floor general. That’s the role the 5-foot-8 Ramirez is taking for this team.
The San Antonio, Texas, native, who has committed to attend Texas Christian University next fall, is the Horned Frogs’ first McDonald’s All-American. Ramirez was named captain of the team during the 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament and that is a role that she has embraced.
“Being a captain is good because I think I’m the vocal leader and I think I do a great job at making sure everyone knows where they’re at on the court,” Ramirez said. “It’s humbling to be called the captain of this 3x3 team.”
Complementing Ramirez on the perimeter are a pair of wings that can attack off the dribble or display their perimeter prowess.
Brown is the USA’s other 2016 teammate who will soon be taking her talents to the Division I collegiate level at the University of California. Her veteran leadership will be critical on and off the floor. In her first varsity game at Vista Murrieta High School, the 6-foot-1 forward tallied 24 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.
She echoes the importance of making sure this team is geared the right way mentally heading into the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship in just over a week.
“We really get along well off the court and that helps us tremendously on the court,” Brown said. “We’ve begun to really gain experience playing with each other over these last couple of weeks.”
The two remaining members of the USA 3x3 U18 Team each have one more year of high school eligibility, but they aren’t short of talent or confidence in their skill set.
Walker is currently the top rated prospect in the class of 2017 according to ESPN HoopGurlz Recruiting Rankings. The 6-foot-1 wing out of Monacan High School. in Chesterfield, Virginia, is a pure scorer from anywhere on the court.
Nearly every major Division I program has been infatuated with her skill set and she understands what the 3x3 game can do to add to any player’s offensive game.
“There’s more space available, more isolation and extra cutting that leads to more chances to score,” Walker said of playing 3x3.
It doesn’t take long to witness the comfort Walker possesses in the 3x3 setting. Whether she’s pulling up for a mid-range jump shot or adjusting in mid-air to avoid defenders around the rim, Walker understands how precious an opportunity that is in front of her.
“It’s great being here. Being able to compete for our country is a great feeling,” Walker added.
The final member of the U.S. roster certainly knows how to pack a punch in the lane, particularly in a 3x3 setting. From Kenosha, Wisconsin, Cooks knows the intricacies most may not know coming into 3x3.
“I would have never thought I’d be here with the opportunity to play 3x3 for USA Basketball and luckily I have been playing some 3x3 during summer tournaments,” Cooks said.
At 6-foot-4, Cooks provides great length inside to help disrupt shots defensively as well as a smooth variety of post moves on the offensive end. There’s a lot to love about Cooks on the floor, and she knows the importance of being a positive impact off the floor.
“You want to be surrounded by good people and my teammates are a lot of fun to be around,” Cooks said. “I’m extremely excited to go to Kazakhstan and play with these girls.”
Despite being fairly new with each other, the confidence and the expectations are all the same from each player.
Ramirez concluded practice saying, “I think we’re ready,” and Walker followed suit adding, “We’re definitely ready.” This team seems to be jelling at the right time.