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Monday, May 27, 2013

UConn recruiting rargets make U.S. U-16 team

(Photo courtesy of USA Basketball)
UConn recruiting target Asia Durr was named to the U.S. U-16 squad.
Asia Durr and Katie Lou Samuelson, the only members of the Class of 2015 known to have scholarship honors from UConn and DeJanae Boykin, who has been quoted as saying she intends to make an unofficial visit to UConn this summer, were among 12 players named to the U.S. team which will be competing in the FIBA Americas U16 Championships next month.

Durr is a 5-foot-11 guard from Douglasville, Ga., who is considered by many to be the best player in the Class of 2015. Samuelson is a 6-foot-3 guard/forward who plays for California powerhouse Mater Dei (the alma mater of UConn All-American Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis) while Boykin will play for Flowers High after being a star at national power Riverdale Baptist last season.

The 12-member team was selected after four days of trials featuring 132 players. Ten of the 12 players were among the 33 initially invited to the tryouts by the selection committee. Sabrina Ionescu and Taylor Murray were the only players out of the 102 who applied for inclusion for the trials to make the team. The U.S. opens up against Brazil on June 19 with the gold-medal game scheduled for June 23 in Cancun, Mexico.

Here are quotes from Boykin, Durr and Samuelson courtesy of USA Basketball.

DeJanae Boykin (Charles H. Flowers H.S./Springdale, Md.)
How did you feel when you heard your name called?
I was very surprised. It’s an accomplishment to be able to be out here and play for the USA team and be able to represent your country. It means a lot. I was really excited. It was a blessed moment to be able to be out here and be able to represent the USA.

How tough was the competition this weekend?
It was really tough. I was very nervous. Playing against all the top people in the class of 2015 and 2016 and younger kids, also. It was very good to play against them.

What does it mean for you to have an opportunity to represent your country?
It means a lot to actually be out here and know that people recognize my talent, and I can represent my country.

Did you ever think you would have an opportunity like this?
I thought I could make it, I knew it. I thought I could make it, so I just stuck to my game.

What were you trying to show to the committee this weekend?
Versatility. I would love to be a post player, but as you can see, I’m not really that tall. I can shoot out on the wing. I can guard post players, I can guard guards, I can do whatever you want me to do.

Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic H.S./Douglasville, Ga.)
What did you try to focus on during the trials?
There were a few things that I tried to show. I tried to show that I was coachable, that I hustled, and that I play very hard and that I never gave up. I continued to play when I turned the ball over, I said to myself, ‘next play, I got it, I got it, and just keep your head up.'

How did you think your trials went?
They went good. It was tough, they were long but I was excited about it and I was very thankful.

When they got the finalists together and to announce who had made the team, were you nervous and how did you feel when you heard your name?
When I heard my name the first thing I did was thank God because none of this is possible without him. It was a great feeling because I was very stressed, I was so stressed, but this is a really great feeling.

What does it mean to you to represent your country in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship?
It means the world to me. This is a great chance I have to go out and try to represent my country. It’s a good feeling.

Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Congratulations on making the USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team. What does this mean for you?
It’s amazing. It’s the greatest feeling ever. Just knowing that everything I’ve worked for all my life is paying off and that I get to represent this country that all the greatest players have. It’s just unbelievable.

Did you envision this for yourself growing up as a kid or even just weeks before you attended trials?
Yeah. When I was little, I grew up watching all these teams, and I just always wanted to be a part of it. I just knew if I kept working hard, I might be able to get it. Knowing I got invited before, it just became real to me. It still doesn’t seem that real right now, but it’s crazy.

Would you say this is the biggest honor of your basketball career?

What makes it so special?
It’s so special because just being able to represent your country, your whole country, and that you can actually do that and bring home a gold medal for them. It’s crazy.

Have you been able to tell your two sisters yet? (Samuelson’s sister Bonnie tried out for the 2009 U16 National Team, while her other sister, Karlie, tried out for the 2012 U17 World Championship Team.)
Yes I did.

What did they have to say?
They’re super excited that I finally did it because they didn’t get to.

Do you feel like there was one day during the trials where you caught the selection committee’s eye or do you feel like it was the whole trials in general?
I definitely thought the first session of scrimmaging was probably my best. I thought that was a great way to start off playing good. The next day, I didn’t have that great of sessions, but the second session I actually did better. I just thought that hopefully those two sessions could help me out and that they saw those plays that I did.

You come back for training camp in a few weeks. What are your plans until then?
Just to do the workouts they gave us.

They gave you some workouts?
Yeah they did, and I’m just going to keep working hard and get in better shape.

The competition is taking place in Cancun, Mexico. Have you ever been there or heard anything about it?
Nope. I’ve never been anywhere outside of the country, so I’m very excited.

What is the biggest thing you take away from the last few days?
Definitely just how hard everyone played and just how positive everything was. I’m just going to try and take that back to my high school team and get everyone to be as positive and hard working as everyone was here.

What is it going to take to win the FIBA Americas U16 Championship?
I think we’re just really going to have to play well as a team and not focus on anyone who needs to score. We just have to get the right baskets and make the best plays.

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