Three former or current La Jolla Country Day women’s basketball stars chosen to play for national teams
Two La Jolla Country Day School alumni and one current student have been selected to play Olympic-level basketball this year as members of USA Basketball.
Current player Breya Cunningham (class of 2023) has been selected to the 16-and-younger team. Alumna Te-Hina Paopao, a 2020 graduate now playing at the University of Oregon, has been named to the 19-and-under team. And Kelsey Plum (class of 2013), currently a guard with the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA, is on the 3 vs. 3 team that will compete in the Tokyo Olympics July 24-27.
Plum, who was a household name in LJCDS basketball during her high school years, was a No. 1 draft pick in the WNBA in 2017. She is one of four athletes who will represent the United States on the women’s 3-on-3 team, along with Stefanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky, Allisha Gray of the Dallas Wings and Katie Lou Samuelson of the Seattle Storm.
“Kelsey is one of the best offensive players in the country, period,” said LJCDS basketball coach Terri Bamford, who coached Plum when she was a student. “She holds the record for most points scored by any female college player [when she played for the University of Washington], and she’s super competitive. ... Her skill set and ability to score is one thing, but then she’s a great teammate, she’s coachable. She’s disciplined and works out on her own. She outworks everyone and always has.”
The 19U team has nine athletes already secured — including Paopao — with three more roster spots to fill in coming weeks. The 12-member team will play in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s U19 World Cup Aug. 7-15 in Debrecen, Hungary.
“With Te-Hina, we call it being in the lab,” Bamford said. “She perfects her plays and is ‘in the lab’ all the time. Her leadership on the court is outstanding. ... On the court and off the court, she’s well-liked by her teammates. She has what it takes to make people play hard for her. Those are important attributes to have as a point guard.”
The 16U team, including Breya, who will be a junior at LJCDS next school year, will report to USA Basketball for training camp on Aug. 4 to prepare for the FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women Aug. 16-22 in Santiago, Chile.
“We’re talking about the 12 best 16-year-old players in the country, and Breya was one,” Bamford said. “She’s an amazing leader and led our team in scoring, rebounds and blocked shots. She has a calm demeanor, she keeps everything in perspective. ... She’s very skilled and really kind and a good teammate. It’s never about her, it’s always about the team. When you are trying to make the 16U team, they look for a great teammate, and I’m really proud of her that she made that cut.”
Of her three former or current players being selected to the USA Basketball teams, Bamford said: “It’s an elite group and I’m super proud and excited that they are doing the things they need to do to earn their spots. Besides being talented, you have to have other attributes. So I’m proud of them.”
The players could not be reached for comment.
USA Basketball is considered the national governing body for basketball in the United States and is responsible for the selection and training of athletes who play in international competitions. Learn more at usab.com. ◆
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