Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was just 18 at this point last season. And, surprisingly, USA Basketball was not an option for her. The U-19 Championship, Pan American Games and the World University Games were in off-years. She was too old to play for the U.S. U-18 team.
This week, though, a sense of normalcy has been restored. Mosqueda-Lewis again finds herself associated with USA Basketball competing for a roster spot at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Along with fellow UConn All-American Bria Hartley, she is one of 33 players at the World University Games trials vying for 12 roster spots.
“It’s nice,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “I missed it last year and it’s cool to be around all of these good athletes and be able to see some of my friends from other teams and just playing against a lot of competition.’’
Mosqueda-Lewis is seeking to win her fourth gold medal this summer with USA Basketball. She has already won gold at the 2011 U-19, 2010 U-17 and 2009 U-16 championships.
Another gold medal would only add to what has already been an exceptional year for Mosqueda-Lewis. The Huskies rolled through the NCAA tournament, winning six games by a margin of 34.7 points, to earn their record-tying eighth national championship.
“It was cool just being able to finally get it together and be one unit at the end of the year,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “It took us a while to get there and it did take us until we actually got to tournament time. So it was nice to end on the right note, especially for our seniors.
“I believed that we had it in us. But it’s hard when you don’t see it all season and a few guys are up and down. But for us to finally get it going and make it consistent and have a change in our mindset towards the end of the year that’s when everybody knew. As soon as that happened we were like, `We got this.’’’
Mosqueda-Lewis averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in the NCAA tournament and was named to the Final Four all-tournament team. This capped a career-season that saw her average a team-high 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.2 minutes, earning a spot on the 10-player WBCA All-America team.
She also led the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (.492) and made 3-pointers (118, a team single-season record).
Here is how Mosqueda-Lewis summed up the season that she had …
“I think a good word for it would be `consistent,’’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “That’s what I tried to be the whole time for my team is consistent. A consistent rebounder. A consistent scorer. Just make sure that I was doing whatever the team needed as much as possible.’’
So what is the next step for Mosqueda-Lewis heading into the final two years of her career? It’s simple. She wants to assume a greater leadership role and she wants to continue to improve.
“There’s a lot to work on,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “Every aspect of my game can go up more than what it is right now. And with the coach (Geno Auriemma) that I have there’s never any rest. Dead is a state of mind to him.’’
Here is what Mosqueda-Lewis has seen from Hartley this week at the World University Games trials …
“Bria looks really good,’’ Mosqueda-Lewis said. “She’s doing awesome. She’s hitting some 3s and going to the basket, making good passes. She’s being Bria Hartley.’’