USA U19 Gold Medalist Azzi Fudd Named After Olympic Gold Medalist Jennifer Azzi
Point guard Jennifer Azzi wore No. 8 across her chest as she led the USA to a gold medal during the 1996 Olympics and the 1990 and 1998 FIBA World Cup. Eighteen-year-old Azzi Fudd wore No. 8 n in honor of the gold medalist during the FIBA U19 FIBA World Cup, where she helped lead the USA to its ninth U19 gold medal.
“My mom told me when I was younger, but it didn't really resonate with me until I was in middle school,” said Fudd, about being named after Jennifer Azzi. “I started to realize I love the game and that I was actually pretty good at it. And then I started to appreciate who Jennifer Azzi was. So probably around middle school was when it really kind of hit me that I was named after an amazing person and player."
1996 Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Azzi.
From the time Fudd was in middle school and realized who she was named after, she was already making a name for herself in the world of basketball. Out-shooting the best boys' prospects in the country at Stephen Curry's SC30 Select Camp and at only 16, she became the first sophomore in history to win the Gatorade National Girls' Basketball Player of the Year award. During her sophomore campaign at St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., Fudd put up an absurd 26.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
“I really try not to focus on the spotlight,” said Fudd on having the spotlight on her from such a young age. “I don't let media or any of the outside factors really get to me at all. I try to focus on the things that are important, like my team, what's going on, on the court, and what the coaches need of me. I try not to get distracted by outside stuff.”
Fudd is considered a top prospect, and she will take her game to the University of Connecticut this fall.
Prior to arriving in Hungary for the 2021 U19 World Cup, the future Husky already had won two gold medals with USA Basketball – at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup and in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
At just 14 years old, Fudd was the youngest member of the 2017 USA Women’s U16 National Team and contributed 8.0 points and 2.4 assists a game in the USA’s gold medal showing.
One year later, and again the youngest member, she started all seven games for the 2018 USA U17 World Cup and averaged 9.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game for the USA squad that won gold with a perfect 7-0 record in Minsk, Belarus.
“It’s an incredible honor no matter what number you're wearing as long as you have the USA on your chest. It's an honor to play, but just knowing that I'm playing for our country, and then also the jersey I’m wearing having a bigger meaning to me. It means a lot to me,” commented Fudd on what the impact of wearing No. 8 in Hungary meant to her.
Fudd, who started training at UConn over the summer, capitalized on the newfound skills she worked on with other Huskies in order to help the USA claim gold.
“Individually, I was focusing more on trying to be a vocal leader,” said Fudd. “And also using this time to prepare myself for what's next with college, my freshman year around the corner. Obviously, we came here to win a gold medal, but I think that being able to implement and use some of the stuff I learned at UConn to put it into what I did with USA Basketball. And Now I’m going to, bring back the stuff I learned here to college. I'm excited because this is a great group of girls, and this has gotten me a little bit more prepared for college because I was playing against international pro players.”
With Fudd now three-for-three in winning gold medals with USA teams, and with her entire collegiate career and a possible professional career still ahead of her, no one would anyone be surprised to see Fudd back wearing her familiar No. 8 red, white and blue jersey for future USA Basketball teams.