Preparation Working Perfectly for Courtney Ogden
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
It is a quote widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, yet it rings true with all of the modern marvels that surround us on a daily basis some 250 years later.
While 17-year-old Courtney Ogden doesn’t yet have the same type of accomplishments as Franklin, she knew what she had to do upon receiving her first invitation from USA Basketball for a roster tryout.
“Obviously, I prepared a lot before coming here (to WU18 trials),” said Ogden, who just completed her junior year at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta. “But it’s like any experience when you’re in the gym with a large group of girls who are talented as you are. You might be a little bit nervous. But just knowing that I can rely on my preparation and just knowing that I’m as good as anyone out here is why I’m here. That really pushed me through.”
Ogden, a 6-foot-1 wing and five-star recruit ranked 12th in the Class of 2023 by HoopGurlz and ESPNW, earned a spot on USA Basketball’s 12-player roster that will compete in the 2022 FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championship in Buenos Aires from June 13-19. The U.S., which has won the last nine gold medals at this age level, opens play in the eight-team tournament June 13 vs. Colombia.
As part of getting ready for the trials, Ogden tapped teammate U18 Londynn Jones, among others, and it left her with one important takeaway.
“Just coming in with the right mindset is the most important thing,” said Ogden, named a WBCA All-American.
After recovering from a broken left ankle during an AAU game that sidelined her for the first part of her junior season, Ogden averaged 18.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game and led Westminster to the Georgia AAA state semifinals. Already having committed to 2021 national champion Stanford University, Ogden not only is after her first gold medal, but seeking to improve her game.
“When you’re competing and practicing with the best players in the country on a daily basis, you’re only the better. So that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Ogden said. “Obviously, we’re looking to win a gold medal, but getting better for AAU season and also moving into college is definitely important as well.”
As the USA Basketball experience helps improve her skills, Ogden also learned from watching her AAU (FBC United) and high school teams play without her.
“It taught me that you can always do something to get better, but also to help your team win,” Ogden said. “I was on the bench for the end of my AAU season and for most of my high school season. I was doing different things in practice than most of the team was and then also with my own free time, I couldn’t work out necessarily in the typical way I do, but I was going to do something to get better. So knowing that no matter what I’m doing, whether it was on the court, off the court, cheering for teammates, doing ball-handling drills, just setting an example and doing something. I can always get better and help my team get better.”
As a bit of a taller ball-handler — and because she was being heavily recruited by Stanford — Ogden has watched a lot of the Hull twins, Lexie and Lacie.
“They’re both in the same position as me, they’re both about 6-1,” Ogden said of the Hulls. “So learning how they play, especially for a system that I’m coming into, that was really important for this year.”
Not only does she see herself fitting in well with Stanford on the court, it’s what she is looking for off the court as well.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” Ogden said of playing for legendary coach Tara VanDerveer, a prior USA Basketball head coach and NCAA career wins leader. “Obviously I’m a student-athlete and Stanford provides the student aspect and the athlete aspect. It’s a top school and obviously a top basketball program. So it’s the best of both worlds. It’s in Cali, so I mean you can't go wrong with Stanford.”
The FIBA Americas Championship isn’t the first international experience for Ogden. She played in Sweden with her Blue Star 30 team. But Ogden is singularly focused as the U.S. heads to Buenos Aires.
“Winning a gold medal,” Ogden said when asked what she was looking forward to in Argentina.
Through the conversations she has had with others and her time during these trials and training camp, Ogden knows what it means to put on a USA Basketball jersey.
“It’s one of the greatest honors you can have in the basketball world,” Ogden said. “Representing your country is amazing, especially if you come out with a gold medal. There’s nothing more you really ask for.”
Steve Drumwright is a journalist based in Murrieta, California.