Angel McCoughtry Happy to Be Back, Especially on Her Former Home Court
USA Women’s National Team exhibition at Louisville is next for McCoughtry as she works her way back from injury.
Angel McCoughtry is ecstatic to be back on the basketball court, and she is overjoyed to be back on her college stomping grounds at the University of Louisville.
Perhaps best of all, she will be practicing and playing with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.
“Just amazing,” said McCoughtry, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who recently returned to action after a knee injury sidelined her in late 2018. “I'm just glad to be playing with these girls. I'm just having so much fun. Not being able to play for like over a year, I mean I'm just so happy. I'm having so much fun. Everybody's looking at me like, 'Why does that girl have so much energy?'”
While being back in playing condition is great, this weekend, there is an extra level of joy as the WNT is playing an exhibition Sunday against Louisville at it continues to prepare for the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. Following a 79-64 win over fourth-ranked University of Connecticut on Monday, the game against fifth-ranked Louisville is the second and final exhibition before the WNT plays in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, on Feb. 6-9.
It is one of four qualifying tournaments around the globe to determine the Olympic field. The U.S., along with Olympic host Japan, already has clinched a spot for the Tokyo Games, where it will seek a seventh straight gold medal. The WNT will face Serbia, Mozambique and Nigeria in Belgrade.
McCoughtry doesn’t get back to Louisville often — she did pop back in September for Louisville Live, involving the women’s and men’s teams — so she is looking forward to hitting up some of her favorite places and being a bit of a tour guide to the WNT players.
“I'm giving the girls a tour, telling them what to expect, telling them to go to the Muhammed Ali Center and stuff,” said McCoughtry, who left Louisville in 2009 as the school’s career leader in points (2,779) and rebounds (1,261). “It's been really cool.”
But, McCoughtry had to work hard to get back to this level. While playing for the Atlanta Dream — the WNBA team that drafted her No. 1 overall in 2009 — the 6-foot-1 guard-forward tore her left ACL and meniscus on Aug. 7, 2018, against the Las Vegas Aces. Her next game action came for Dynamo Kursk in a Russian Premier League game on Jan. 8, just a few weeks ago. She played 20 minutes, scoring eight points.
“The knee's feeling good,” she said. “Step by step, it's getting better, and I'm starting to feel like my old self.”
Her return couldn’t have come at a better time. In addition to being able to join the WNT for the Louisville game, she just became a WNBA free agent. McCoughtry said she expects to make a decision as soon as this week about her next team.
During her time away from the court, McCoughtry continued to dabble in a couple of side projects. One is music. Already with a couple singles to her credit, she dropped “Never Let Go” — a feel-good, afro-beat tune — on Jan. 3.
“It's something that's fun for me,” McCoughtry said of music. “I had a lot of time on my hands with my injury, wasn't playing, so I just tried to be creative. The single is actually doing pretty well. It has especially taken off in Africa, because it has that African-Caribbean vibe. It's just really fun to do some different things, but basketball is definitely the No. 1 focus.”
Her other creative project is writing a script for a TV show. She said she is in talks with “a couple networks” about picking up the dramatic comedy.
At the moment, though, her focus is on basketball and potentially being part of the Olympic team.
“It goes to show you that just because you are at a low moment, it's not over,” McCoughtry said of where she is now after going through injury rehab. “It's hard, because you might have doubters that might not think, 'Oh, she's not going to be like she used to be.' Sometimes it's about believing in yourself and you keep working hard, and now you're out here with the best players in the world ... it's just a good feeling.”