Ruthy Hebard is Assembling an Impressive USA Basketball Resume
The University of Oregon’s Ruthy Hebard once again will have a busy summer in 2019, and she will joined on the inaugural U.S. Pan American Games 3x3 Women's Team in the coming weeks by college teammate Sabrina Ionescu.
Hebard, a 6-foot-4 forward from Fairbanks, Alaska, will team up with Ionescu and the University of Connecticut’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams for the 2019 Pan American Games 3x3 basketball competition, which takes place July 27-29 at the Coliseo Eduardo Dibo in Lima, Peru.
The USA will open play July 27 against Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and the slate features Venezuela and the Dominican Republic the following day. The semifinals will take place July 29, with a fifth-place game, bronze medal match-up and gold medal showdown taking place later in the day.
Following a junior season in which she averaged 16.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in helping the Ducks to their first NCAA Tournament Final Four, Hebard will look to add to her international accolades in Peru.
In 2018, Hebard and Ducks teammates Ionescu, Erin Boley and Oti Gildon won the USA Basketball 3x3 National Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the group went on to represent the United States at the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in the Philippines, where they finished fifth.
“Being able to play with Sabrina, Oti and Erin last summer was a great experience,” Hebard said. “Being able to travel to the Philippines with some of my closest friends are moments that I will remember forever.
“On and off the court we got closer. Being able to play with your college teammates for the USA does not happen often. I am so glad it did. I think it made us all better players. We had a blast.”
Hebard, who will be a senior at Oregon this fall, also claimed a silver medal with the 2017 USA U19 World Cup team and a gold medal with the 2016 USA U18 National Team.
It has been quite a year for the All-Pacific 12 Conference performer, who was a big part of Oregon crashing the Final Four party in 2019. And, she did it while playing through pain down the season’s stretch after sustaining a right knee injury in mid-February.
Oregon is positioned to contend for a national championship in 2019-20 as the Ducks will return several key pieces from their Final Four squad, including Hebard, and Wooden Award winner Ionescu. The team averaged 84.9 points per game last season, and that high-scoring offense is expected to continue this coming year.
Hebard said two priorities for her heading into her senior campaign are continuing to work on creating more for herself and expanding her shooting range, so she will be harder to defend.
For now, though, she is determined to excel at the Pan Am Games, where the 3x3 competition will be on the program for the first time approximately one year before its Olympic debut. Hebard, who helped lead Team Oregon — again with Gildon and Ionescu, but with new addition Lydia Giomi — to a gold medal and 6-1 record at the 2019 Red Bull USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals in Las Vegas this past May, is excited for the unique challenges that the 3x3 game offers.
“I like how fast the game is — the fact that you can take it out under the net, pass it out and instantly score is a fun way to play for me,” she said. “There are a bunch of different strategies teams use to be able to score and make plays, and that caught my eye and is one of the best aspects of 3x3 I like.”
In addition to her athleticism benefiting her in the more open style of play, her wide array of national and international experience is a huge bonus. Training with the USA Basketball Women's National Team this past September helped better prepare her for a strong junior season — and perhaps a very bright future.
“Being able to play with some of the best basketball players in the world was crazy to me,” Hebard said. “I learned so much just by watching them. Tina Charles especially helped me out a lot and talked me through a lot of different things. It was such an honor to even be thought of to go train with the USA National Team for those few days.
“It for sure exposed my weaknesses and what I need to get better at in college in order to make it to the (professional ranks) and hopefully a national team. I know what areas I need to work on to improve my game. The experience opened my eyes and made me realize that I could make it (onto the squad) if I continue to work and get better everyday.”
First thing’s first, though: capping off this summer with a Pan American Games gold medal in Peru with a familiar guard by her side.
Dave Miller is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.