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A Full Summer of USA Basketball

  • Author:
    Ryan Stevens
  • Date:
    May 29, 2016

A wave of athletes are brought in for the special opportunity to represent USA Basketball every year. For some, they reap the benefits of their hard work and on court production and are fortunate to make one USA team. For other players, earning a roster spot on multiple USA teams throughout their playing careers becomes a career highlight.

It’s not uncommon for USA Basketball rosters to feature multiple players boasting of lengthy USA Basketball playing resumes. But playing on multiple USA teams in the same summer, well that's something special.

That is the goal for three of the 30 players trying out this weekend for the USA U18 National Team. Sidney Cooks (Saint Joseph Catholic Academy/Kenosha, Wis.), Amber Ramirez (Karen Wagner H.S./San Antonio, Texas) and Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./Chesterfield, Va.) all have the rare opportunity of possibly playing for two USA teams this June and July.

The three, joined by Jaelyn Brown (Vista Murrieta H.S./Murrieta, Calif.), will team up and compete June 1-5 in the 2016 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship for Women in Astana, Kazakhstan. Their 3x3 team, Team Takeover, won the 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament on May 1 to earn the opportunity to represent the U.S. at the 3x3 U18 World Championship.

At the same time as they prepare to pursue a 3x3 gold medal, Cooks, Ramirez and Walker will also play a waiting game to learn if they have been selected for the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team. The three players participated in the first day of U18 trials on Saturday, as well as one session on Sunday morning before boarding their plane to Kazakhstan.

“I knew I had to come out here and make a good first impression and leave with the thought in the coaches’ minds that I really want to be on this team,” said Walker, ESPN.com’s No. 1 rated prospect in the 2017 recruiting class.

“I would say there’s more pressure, because we only have Sunday left to show what we can do for this team,” Cooks added following Saturday’s second trials session. “Although they’ve seen us in 3x3, it’s different in a five-on-five setting because we can run more sets designed for this specific team.”

Even though the three USA U18 trials participants have started to get in more of a groove with one another’s games, they still know what they are going to add when Brown does join the mix for 3x3.

“Jaelyn is going to come in and be our hustle player,” Cooks said about the future California Golden Bear. “We’ll be just as winded as she may be, but she’ll always bring her energy.”

“She comes up with timely plays, she rebounds, can knock down shots when we need it,” Ramirez said. “She’s definitely a good asset for us to have.”

Cooks, Ramirez and Walker have not let these last couple days of preparation go to waste. They said the chemistry is unifying the three, and adding Brown back into the mix should not be a problem.

“Amber can shoot and see the court really well, and Sidney is a stretch four who can post up and shoot the ball,” Walker said about two of her 3x3 teammates.

“On Saturday, we were asked what our signature moves are and we were all able to answer for one another,” Cooks said.

The final 12-woman USA U18 National Team roster will be announced on Monday while the three hopefuls will be just settling in thousands of miles from their native states of Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, respectively.

The long flight from Colorado to Astana, Kazakhstan, will offer the players a variety of options on how to spend their time crossing the Atlantic.

Cooks said she plans on studying for the ACT, while Ramirez and Walker are planning to rest their bodies as much as possible.

“Sleeping, watching movies and try to stay as relaxed as possible so we’re ready to play when we get there,” Walker offered on what would occupy her time during their flights.

It would not be a surprise if they also spend some of the flight wondering about their chances of making the USA U18 roster. How could they not help but wonder if they made enough of an impression on the coaches and selection committee in their three trials sessions?

“There’s great competition here and it’s fun. I’m sad we have to leave early,” added Cooks.

“I feel like I have less of an opportunity to show the committee what I can do and I hope the first two days is enough for them to see what I can do,” said Ramirez.

Every gold medal is special, but the opportunity to win two over one summer is something that these three hope becomes a reality.

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