We seem to say it every month or so, but Geno Auriemma's recruiting classes are annually among the best in the country, and as such are frequently honored throughout the year for their basketball-related achievements. The latest: the Huskies' top-ranked freshmen class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck were all selected for the U-18 U.S. National Team Monday.
The team will compete in the 2012 FIBA Americas U-18 National Championship from August 15-19 in Puerto Rico. The top three qualifiers from that tournament will then advance to play in the 2013 U-19 World Championship in Lithuania in July 2013.
Last summer, Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck, all rising high school seniors, made the final 15 of the 2011 U-19 National team roster along with current Huskies Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis. Everyone but Jefferson made the final roster, marking the third time in as many years she just missed the cut. (More impressive, perhaps: that she was even in position to compete for a roster spot.) As we wrote in June 2011, Jefferson seemed undeterred by the temporary bad news.
"It fuels me knowing I didn’t make [the team the last two times]," Jefferson said in May 2011. "When you come out for something like this, you want to make it. Honestly, I give my best, 110 percent, every time I get on the court. Being cut hasn’t really changed anything about me, it just makes me go a little harder."
And that's exactly what happened as Jefferson was among the final 12 for this summer's squad.
"It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court," committee chair Sue Donohoe said via UConnHuskies.com. "It's not so much about taking the 12 best players, it's taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials some players stepped forward, some players stepped back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S.
"I think this team is strong in many facets. I think we will be very strong on the perimeter - we've got kids that can pull-up and shoot the jumper and kids that can put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. We are going to be strong in the paint. Really, I think we've put together a blend of kids that have multitude of talents. Very athletic, very court savvy and certainly in international play, that will be very helpful to us," she said.