JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — When Sedona Prince joined the Faith Academy of Marble Falls girls basketball team led by coaching hall of famer Jerry English, fans knew the two would accomplish things that even English hadn’t experienced in four decades of coaching.
But few, including English, might not have expected the letter that arrived at the athletic department in March.
The freshman player, who turns 15 on May 12, was invited to a four-day tryout by the Developmental National Team Committee and USA Basketball, the governing body that chooses players for teams that represent the United States in international competitions, including the Olympics and the World Championships. USA Basketball assembles the Dream Teams that have won the gold medals at the past two Olympic Games and five of the last six for the men. The U.S. women have won gold in seven of the past eight Olympics.
English has guided 18 girls high school teams to state tournaments, winning two, and has had “hundreds” of players selected to all-state and all-state tournament teams.
So how many players has he coached who’ve been selected to try out for USA Basketball?
“None,” he said. “It’s truly mind boggling. I’m absolutely stunned.”
Prince is one of 30 girls selected nationally to try out for the 15- and 16-year-old team May 21-25 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, USA Basketball allows other players to try out but who must pay their own expenses. Officials will then pick 12 athletes to represent the United States at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship tournament in Merida, Mexico, on June 24-28. The team will go through training camp June 14-23 in Colorado Springs before leaving for Mexico.
Prince said she believes she appeared on USA Basketball’s radar in part because of the University of Texas, the school for which she committed to play college basketball at on Father’s Day 2014, and her play in Amateur Athletic Union teams in Texas.
She said she experienced some anxious moments during March because she was told information about her was submitted to USA Basketball.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” she said. “Other girls’ letters had come in, but not mine.”
Once she received her invitation, Prince said she got a different feeling.
“I was scared at first,” she said, “scared I’m not going to play as well.”
Standing close to 6 feet 7 inches, Prince is the tallest player English has coached at Faith Academy. And he believes that is one reason she received the invitation from USA Basketball. But her skill level, particularly on defense, will force others across the country to take notice, he said.
“Sedona’s timing on blocking shots is as good of any athlete I’ve ever seen – not girl – athlete,” he said. “Her timing of meeting the ball is pretty impressive when you think of a 14-year-old girl.”
The low post averaged 13.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.4 blocks during the 2014-2015 season, in which Faith (32-5) finished as a Class 3A state semifinalist in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
Receiving the letter has brought many positives for the youngster and helped her realize her individual goals are obtainable, she said.
“I think I had a lot of self-doubt before this,” she said. “I was going to UT because I was tall. (This invitation) built self-confidence. USA Basketball is a big organization. It’ll help me become an All-American.”