Trio Of Athletes Gain Close Advice Ahead Of U19 Trials
For 10 athletes participating in the 2017 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team trials, everything is new. The dorms, the gyms, the United States Olympic Training Center – it’s an environment and a spotlight their basketball careers are now encountering.
It’s a chance to soak it all in, even for the first-time coaches and those that are returning. But for three players, this year’s trials run a little deeper.
Bella Alarie (Bethesda, Md.), a 6-foot-4 forward from Princeton University, was a late addition to the trials roster, who is marking her first experience with USA Basketball.
She isn’t the first Alarie to don a USA Basketball jersey, though. Her father, Mark, was a member of three USA Basketball teams, including the 1983 USA Select Team that posted a 12-0 record in exhibition games and the 9-0, gold medal winning 1984 R. William Jones Cup Team. He also participated in the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team trials.
This past season, Alarie was named the 2017 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and an all-Ivy League first team selection with her 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game average. When she received the letter to participate in this year’s trials, the answer was a no-brainer, and her father was equally thrilled.
“My dad has been my biggest role model my whole life, so to be here with USA Basketball and have this same opportunity as him – he was super excited for me when I got the letter,” said Alarie, following Friday’s morning trials session.
“It means so much to follow in his footsteps and play in the Alarie name. I think that is something that I’ve thought about this college season, and especially now, about making him proud and playing in his honor. This is not an opportunity that a lot of people come across or get to do, so he wanted me to take advantage of this weekend and soak it all in.”
Another athlete with USA Basketball ties is the University of Maryland’s Stephanie Jones (Havre de Grace, Md.). Jones is familiar with Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the trials process, as she has twice been with USA Basketball for the 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team trials and the 2013 USA U16 National Team trials.
Jones’ sister, Brionna, who was selected No. 8 overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, is the USA Basketball link after she captured a gold medal with the 2015 World University Games Team.
“It’s really special. Being able to play with her in college this year was special, too, but this is kind of like me following in her footsteps, so it would mean a lot to me to make this team.”
Jones hasn’t found her place with USA Basketball yet, but she believes the third time could be the charm. She’s taking this opportunity and hoping to run with it after two years on the outside looking in.
“I’m just happy to be here, to have the chance to play and compete with these other girls again. My sister, she knows that I’ve been here before. She just told me to relax and play my game.”
Minyon Moore (Hercules, Calif.), whose sister Mariya won a gold medal playing on the 2015 USA U19 World Championship Team, rounds out the group of legacy athletes at this year’s trials.
Moore is back at the USOTC after only one month. Her first taste of USA Basketball experience came at the 2017 USA 3x3 National Tournament on April 8-9, when she helped her University of Southern California team advance to the quarterfinals.
“It definitely means a lot to just be here, because I look up to her and of course, I want to be like her as I grow up. I want to win gold just like her and continue the legacy of our last name within USA Basketball,” said Moore.
But, this marks Minyon’s first run at trials, and Mariya, who is transferring in to the Trojans’ basketball program for her final season of eligibility, offered up some quality advice.
“She said to be vocal and a great teammate,” added Moore. “She told me that if my shots aren’t falling, don’t get down on myself, but to always be a good teammate at the end of the day.”
With the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup for Women nearly two months away (July 22-30 in Udine and Cividale del Friuli, Italy), Alarie, Jones and Moore all hope to make their first USA Basketball team. Their journeys to this point don’t align as much as their pride for the game and for USA Basketball, which links them together through their families’ legacy.