Faith Academy’s Sedona Prince makes Team USA basketball squad

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

Faith Academy's Sedona Prince (25) made the USA Basketball 16-and-under team after tryouts May 21-25. Courtesy photo

Faith Academy’s Sedona Prince (25) made the USA Basketball 16-and-under team after tryouts May 21-25. Courtesy photo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Faith Academy of Marble Falls center Sedona Prince was named to the USA Basketball 16-and-under team that will compete at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in June after a five-day tryout May 21-25.

Prince was one of 30 players invited from across the country to tryouts. In addition, other athletes decided to pay their own way for a chance to compete for a spot on the team for a total of 155 players.

“I hadn’t been to anything as big as this,” Prince said. “There were so many girls there competing for spots. It was crazy how they were all fighting and doing their hardest.”

The Lady Flame, who just completed her freshman year at the academy, survived the first cut that narrowed the group to 92 athletes. Another 22 did not survive the second reduction. A third cut brought the total number to 40 athletes.

On May 25, Team USA coaches announced which athletes made the 12-player roster. Prince, who was the tallest athlete in the age group at 6 feet 7 inches, is one of four Texans to make the team. The other three are:

• Desireè Caldwell of San Antonio Johnson High School

• Alexis Morris of Beaumont Legacy Christian Academy

• Jade Williams of The Colony Prestonwood Christian Academy

While Prince acknowledged there might be more talented players who didn’t make the team, she believes the 12 named to the roster have a chemistry.

“I think there were definitely better players,” she said, “but they couldn’t fit in with the other players. It’s a team effort.”

Prince said coaches gathered the remaining 40 players and instructed the posts to be posts, which meant rebounding with authority, making accurate and strong outlet passes and staying on the low blocks and in the paint in order to get the inside-outside offensive sets going. So Prince set out to perform each task exactly as she was told.

The player noticed other posts were attempting outside jumpers and dribbling as opposed to doing what coaches wanted, which she believes worked in her favor.

In addition, she used her height to block shots without fouling shooters.

“Her physical size helps a great deal,” Faith Academy head coach Jerry English said. “Sedona is a whole lot more than a tall girl. She’s extremely agile. I don’t think you can find a whole lot more girls who have a better timing on blocking shots and is an outstanding rebounder.”

English said one area he can see where Prince has made strides is in her self-confidence as a player.

“She wasn’t quite sure how good she was,” he said. “I don’t think she could quite get in her mind she was as good as she was and capable.”

Prince will report back to training camp in Colorado Springs on June 14-22 before leaving for Mexico.

Until then, she plans on drinking lots of water and buying an oxygen mask that limits the amount of oxygen she breathes to help her adjust to the altitude in Colorado. The U.S. Olympic Training Center is next to Pikes Peak, which is higher than any point in the country east of its longitude. Its elevation is 14,115 feet and its prominence is 5,530 feet, which makes breathing difficult.

“We drink so much water,” Prince said. “It’s really hard to breathe. On the first day, everyone was struggling, people were sweating really hard. But you get used to it.”

Team USA will play in the 2015 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas U16 Championship on June 24-28 in Puebla, Mexico. Team USA has won the last three gold medals at this tournament. The top four teams earn automatic bids to the 2017 U17 World Championships.   

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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