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Jackie Young returns to USA Basketball for training camp

  • Author:
    Jerry Humphrey, USA Basketball Writing Program
  • Date:
    Feb 17, 2023

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team g
athered for a minicamp in Minneapolis last week for the first time since winning gold the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup for the fourth consecutive time. Having already qualified for the 2024 Olympics in Paris, this minicamp was the start of preparations for the USA coaches, players and staff.

Eleven of the 15 athletes at camp had been on Olympic or World Cup gold-medal-winning teams. Among them, Jackie Young, a member of the 2020 USA 3x3 Women’s Olympic Team, who has 5-on-5 aspirations with USA Basketball.  

“I'm excited to be here,” Young said. “I have been working out a lot in the offseason, so to finally be able to play 5-on-5 again has been fun. Getting to play with some players you don’t usually only allows you to get better.”

Young is coming off a stellar 2022 WNBA season where she averaged 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.4 steals en route to earning the Most Improved Player award and helping the Las Vegas Aces to their first title. 

“Ive been working on a lot of different things this training camp,” Young explained. “From trying to get my 3s off a little bit faster, finishing at the basket and getting into my shot at the midrange.”

Young’s tireless approach has been noticed by 3x3 and Aces teammate Kelsey Plum. Plum, who averaged 6.2 points and 1.4 rebounds at Tokyo Olympics, spoke about being alongside Young again.

“Jackie is a beast,” Plum said. “I don’t think that she gets the love she deserves. This is someone that was a starting [WNBA] All-Star last year. She works her butt off every year. She comes back and gets better. She plays the one-through-three and guards the best player on the opposing team every night. I see her in Vegas and she works every day, whether it’s lifting or shooting after practice. Players like that are what makes winning teams.” 

Young and Plum, along with teammates Stefanie Dolson and Allisha Gray, made history by taking home the gold in 3x3’s Olympic debut in Tokyo. Led by head coach Kara Lawson, the group understands how hard work leads to opportunity. 

“What I’m most proud of is they all earned it with their preparation the year before,” Lawson said in 2021. “Jackie Young, who did an incredible job on her own to come in late and really buy in and work our team. Whether it was Kelsey coming back from Achilles injury, Stef Dolson getting in the best shape of her life or Allisha Gray becoming one of the best players in the world. All of these things happened together, they happened concurrent with one another and that’s why we were the champions.  

The U.S. will be led into Paris by 2021-24 USA Women’s National Team head coach Cheryl Reeve. While the stakes are high leading into the Olympics, Young won’t face the challenges of 5-on-5 alone as many former teammates litter the player pool with her. 

In Minneapolis were University of Notre Dame teammates Marina Marbrey, Arike Ogunbowale and Briana Turner. That trio, along with Young, helped the fight Irish win the 2017-18 NCAA Championship

“Super excited to be here with Marina, Arike and Briana,” Young said. “A lot of us are here. So to be able to hang out and catch up with them has been so much fun. We all haven’t been on the same team since college so we’re taking full advantage of this time at camp.

“It’s always fun to be on the same team [with Kelsey], especially with USA Basketball. We were able to win 3x3 and now the goal is to be on 5-on-5 and have fun out there.”

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