After a Narrow Miss in 2016, Jewell Loyd Is Eyeing the 2020 Olympics
Loyd competed at last week’s qualifying tournament, hoping she’ll advance to Tokyo
Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) is no stranger to representing the United States on the hardcourt. The 26-year-old who hails from the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood has three gold medals to her name as a member of USA Basketball at the FIBA U17 World Cup in 2010, the FIBA 3x3 World Cup in 2014 and the FIBA World Cup in 2018.
This year, she hopes to add a fourth gold medal to her total at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“There is no higher goal than playing in the Olympics and no higher medal — it’s the top of the line,” she said. “Trying to win an Olympic gold medal is something I want to be a part of.”
After being named a finalist for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team, Loyd was unable to crack the final 12-member roster for the squad that went on to claim a sixth consecutive gold medal. Four years later, she hopes to help the U.S. in its quest to win a seventh-straight gold.
“I definitely want to bring some young blood to the team and help any way I can,” she said. “Run the floor hard, play defense, make the extra pass, bring energy and excitement.”
Loyd’s list of accomplishments has continued to grow since she graduated from Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, and began her collegiate playing career at the University of Notre Dame.
Quickly making herself at home in the Fighting Irish backcourt, Loyd was named Big East Freshman of the Year in 2013. She followed that up with two consensus All-American honors in 2014 and 2015 as Notre Dame twice advanced to the NCAA championship game.
While the Fighting Irish were not able to lift the trophy, Loyd capped off her college career by being named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and the espnW National Player of the Year in 2015.
After helping Notre Dame to a 108-6 record in three collegiate seasons, she elected to turn professional rather than return to South Bend, Indiana, for her senior season.
The Seattle Storm, five seasons removed from a WNBA title, wasted no time taking Loyd with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft. She was named the league’s Rookie of the Year that season, and by 2018 helped lead the Storm to its first WNBA championship since 2010.
A two-time WNBA All-Star, Loyd also plays overseas during the domestic league’s offseason. She has played for several teams in both Asia and Europe, and currently plies her trade with Salamanca, Spain-based Perfumerias Avenida of the Spanish league.
“Playing in Spain differs from playing in Turkey and China, but they love basketball,” she said. “It’s not as physical, and our team plays really fast. I love it.”
Playing this fall and winter in Spain has kept Loyd’s internal clock on European time, something that came in handy for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
“Luckily the time change wasn’t too much,” she said. “My body is pretty well adjusted.”
While the U.S. already has qualified for the Olympics as a team, Loyd wanted to make an impression in Belgrade as she sets her sights on being named to the squad that will defend its gold medal in Tokyo. No matter what uniform she wears in her professional career, donning the red, white and blue is always special.
“Any time you wear the ‘USA’ across your chest, it’s more than just three letters, she said. “It’s being part of history and a dynasty. It’s a community, a family, and there’s a bond of sisterhood. It just makes you feel proud.”
Over the weekend, Loyd put her stamp on the USA’s three victories with 4.3 points and an impressive 5.0 assists a game.
Loyd is one of several younger players looking to represent their country at the Olympics as the team continues to refresh its lineup and transition from some of the familiar faces that contributed to past successes. She believes her energy and versatility can be assets for a team looking to continue its decades-long run of gold medal finishes.
“My goals ever since I started playing were to win a WNBA championship and an Olympic gold medal,” she said.
One goal already has been met. Loyd’s journey towards accomplishing goal No. 2 will play out in the coming months.
“To have this opportunity is both humbling and motivating,” she said of her chance to be named to the Olympic team. “It’s something I hope to accomplish this year.”