UConn Class of 2014 target A’ja Wilson, a versatile 6-foot-4 forward from Hopkins, S.C., was the youngest player on the U.S. U-19 team at 16. She had never before played internationally and was not quite sure how she would fare against the competition in Lithuania.
Nine games – and a gold medal – later she fared just fine.
Wilson, making her first appearance with USA Basketball, averaged 10.9 points and team-highs of 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 16.6 minutes off the bench. She finished seventh in the tournament in field goal shooting percentage (.542) and rebounding, third in offensive rebounds (31), sixth in blocks and also had two double-doubles.
“I’m actually pretty surprised,’’ Wilson said. “I really wasn’t quite (sure) because this is my first time going internationally so I really didn’t know how they would play and I didn’t know their style of play. So I didn’t know whether I was going to do what I did.
“I’m excited to see what my senior year will be like after playing in this tournament.’’
Wilson said that she learned a great deal playing on a team filled with older players. It was a team that featured the UConn trio of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck, Alexis Jones of Duke and Bashaara Graves of Tennessee.
“I’m so blessed and honored to even play with these girls,’’ Wilson said. “It was a great experience. I just came in here with an open mind looking to learn from these girls because these girls are playing at the level where I want to play. So really I was just looking to learn and it’s just been a lot of fun.
“I think that I am a tougher player mentally and physically because I learned so much from these girls that toughness will get you to the highest level in all aspects of the game and in life. So that’s really what I’ve learned.’’
Now that the tournament has concluded Wilson said that she will begin to focus on finalizing her five official visits. She does yet not have her list finalized, but her visit to UConn is likely to coincide with First Night festivities in October.
Wilson, who plans to take all five visits before making a decision, averaged 22.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 5.0 steals and 3.0 blocks last season at Heathwood Hall High School.
Here are Wilson’s thoughts about playing with Stewart …
“It was a lot of fun,’’ Wilson said. “It was a lot, a lot of fun because just watching her on TV, but yet just to play with her. She’s a great teammate and a great person on and off the court. So it was a lot of fun.’’