Sykes, Mabrey named to Team USA
When they met in Newark on Thursday, about to depart for Colorado Springs to vie for spots on the USA women’s U18 national basketball team, Michaela Mabrey and Brittney Sykes made a pact.
“I said we’re both making this team,” Mabrey said.
“We promised each other that we were going to be great,” added Sykes.
The two All-Staters, true to their words, were just that. Mabrey and Sykes were each named to Team USA on Monday following the completion of weekend trials in Colorado Springs.
Mabrey, a 5-9 guard who is heading to Notre Dame, and Sykes, a 5-9 guard who is signed with Syracuse, were among the 12 players selected to the squad, which will conduct its first training camp May 28-June 1 at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Fla. and reconvene in Colorado Springs August 4-12 in final preparation before heading to Puerto Rico to complete in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships from August 15 to August 19.
The three medal winners in Puerto Rico will advance to the 2013 U19 Worlds in Lithuania.
The news struck an emotional chord with each.
“I started crying,” said Sykes. “It’s such a great honor to wear USA on your chest. To think people like Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have worn these jerseys is pretty humbling.”
“When I called my mom, she asked me why I was crying,” Mabrey said. “I was overwhelmed with the idea I made this team. It’s an amazing honor.”
Sykes, who starred at University in Newark and Mabrey, the MSG Varsity Metro Player of the Year who led Mansquan to the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, have been practically inseparable since the end of the high-school season. The two played together for the East at the McDonald’s All-America game back in March.
Their camaraderie, as well as the uptempo style U18 national team coach and University of Miami coach Katie Meier is seeking, was also favorable for the two 5-9 guards who have quite the affinity for playing at a quick pace.
“We had an advantage. We know each other on and off the court because we’re played together a lot,” noted Mabrey, who has teamed with Sykes on the AAU circuit. “I think (Meier) was looking at combinations, who can play really well together.”
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner