A tour with the U-17 team did not start out well for UConn 2015 commit Katie Lou Samuelson. She injured her left ankle during the final session of the Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 25.
The injury cast some doubt as to whether or not Samuelson, a versatile 6-foot-3 wing from Huntington Beach, Calif., would be able to compete in the U-17 Championship in the Czech Republic beginning June 28. She was held out of the team’s three exhibition games June 20-22. From there, though there was no sign of an ailment.
Samuelson was named to the all-tournament team today after the U.S. captured its third straight gold medal in the event with a 77-75 win over Spain.
“After missing those three games it was hard to come back,’’ Samuelson said. “But my teammates are great and they let me back in and they worked with me and I think they got me my shots and it’s just amazing.
“These girls are like my family right now and it’s just an amazing feeling. I’m almost at tears.’’
Samuelson led the U.S. in scoring (13.9) and minutes (24.9) and also averaged 4.4 rebounds. She tied the team U-17 record with 19 made 3-pointers (Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, 2010) and set a team record by attempting 47 3-pointers.
Samuelson scored 25 points and made a team single-game tournament record six 3-pointers in the first quarter of a 91-63 win over Canada in the semifinals Saturday.
“It’s amazing that I was able to be on the all-tournament team, especially because I was able to be on with Joyner (Holmes),’’ Samuelson said. “It’s an amazing feeling.
“My goal was just to do what I needed to do to help my team win the gold medal. That was the focus. I wasn’t worried about individual awards at all. I think I contributed in different ways than just shooting. I thought that I expanded my game a little more. Coach (Sue Phillips) put me at the point guard and I was trying to run the sets she wanted me to run. I did pretty well at that spot.’’
It marks the second straight summer that Samuelson has won gold with USA Basketball. She teamed with fellow UConn 2015 commit De’Janae Boykin, 2015 targets Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale, 2016 target Lauren Cox and Nancy Mulkey to win the U-16 gold in 2013.
“Any gold is sweet, but I would have to say this is amazing,’’ Samuelson said.
Samuelson said she will now head home and take a bit of a break from the game before competing in the 3×3 competition at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China Aug. 18-26. She will be joined there by Boykin, fellow UConn commit Napheesa Collier and 2015 target Arike Ogunbowale.
Boykin averaged 5.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 21.6 minutes in the U-17 Championship.
“It’s amazing that we get to play together now and just knowing that we’ll be together for four years,’’ Samuelson said in reference to Boykin. “We play so well together. I’m so excited.’’