Aliyah Boston is getting used to winning gold medals, having already been part of three winning teams in international competition.
Now the St. Thomas native has a chance to go for her fourth gold after she was named Sunday to the United States under-19 women’s national team for the upcoming FIBA U-19 Women’s World Cup, being played July 20-28 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The 6-foot-5 center, who has signed to play at South Carolina next season, was one of 12 players picked for the U.S. U-19 squad after four days of trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Also picked for the U.S. U-19 roster were rising high school seniors Cameron Brink of Beaverton, Ore., Paige Bueckers of St. Louis Park, Minn., Caitlin Clark of West Des Moines, Iowa and Hailey Van Lith of Wenatchee, Wash.; soon-to-be high school grads Fran Belibi of Centennial, Colo. and Celeste Taylor of Valley Stream, N.Y.; and rising college sophomores Queen Egbo of Houston, Texas (Baylor), Nazahrah Hillmon-Baker of Cleveland, Ohio (Michigan), Rhyne Howard of Cleveland, Tenn. (Kentucky), Jordan Nixon of New York (Notre Dame) and NaLyssa Smith of Converse, Texas (Baylor).
The team was narrowed down from 31 finalists who took part in last week’s training camp in Colorado Springs, and were made by USA Basketball’s Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by Jennifer Rizzotti, head coach at George Washington University.
“A lot goes into it, these are the best players in the country,” Rizzotti said in a prepared release. “There’s a great level of diversity, experience and age. You have college kids that have the experience of being coached by a college coach, but you have a lot of really young players that have a lot of USA Basketball experience.
“As a committee we try to find not just 12 of the best players but the best mix of players that we can give to Jeff and his staff to help them win a gold medal. The harder they compete, the harder they make our job. It’s a good thing, but to have to walk into the room and cut 18 kids that really came out here and competed really hard is a tough job.”
The 12 players selected for the U.S. U-19 squad all have previous experience, with 10 of them — including Boston — having took home the gold in past international competition.
Boston has been part of three gold medal teams — the 2018 FIBA U-17 World Cup (where she was named to the all-tournament team), the 2017 FIBA Americas U-16 Championships (where she was the tournament’s most valuable player) and the women’s 3-on-3 competition at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Boston was joined on the FIBA U-17 World Cup squad by Belibi, Brink, Bueckers, Taylor and Van Lith. Belibi, Bueckers, Clark and Taylor were also on the FIBA Americas U-16 Championship squad, and Bueckers and Van Lith teamed with Boston for the 3-on-3 gold at the Youth Olympics.
“I’m really impressed with all the young women who came out here to be a part of the trials,” said Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, who will head up the U.S. U-19 team at the FIBA World Cup. “Now that we’re down to 12, I’m looking forward to getting to know them before we come back here on July 5 to start practice.
“It’s a versatile group. We’ve got some very strong post players, some very dynamic guards. I think we have a chance to do a lot of different things on the basketball court.”
Boston graduates June 7 from Worcester (Mass.) Academy, where she was a three-time Gatorade state player of the year and led the Lady Hilltoppers to back-to-back New England Prep School Athletic Council championships.
She won’t get much vacation time, though.
The U.S. U-19 players will return to Colorado Springs for pre-World Cup training from July 5-10, then travel to Tokyo for more practices and a scrimmage game against Japan’s U-19 team from July 13-15.
From there, the team moves on to Bangkok for three more days of practice and scrimmage games against the U-19 teams from Argentina and Germany before opening group play July 20 against Australia.
The U.S. team, ranked No. 1 in the world, is playing in Group C, with three other top-15 teams in the draw. Australia is ranked No. 7, followed by games against No. 15 South Korea on July 21 and No. 14 Hungary on July 23.
Elimination rounds begin July 14 with the Round of 16, with the quarterfinals July 26, semifinals July 27 and the championship game July 28.