This Colorado standout was the only high school player named to the USA Basketball Women's Junior World Championship team this summer.
It's been quite a year for Ann Strother. After helping Highlands Ranch (Colo.) High School to its second consecutive championship this spring, the 6-1 guard was named to the USA Basketball Women's Junior World Championship Team.
Strother was the only high school player to be chosen this year -- Lisa Leslie was the last and only previous high schooler picked, in 1989 -- but she didn't let her relative youth intimidate her. Rather, she already knew many of the players, who made her feel right at home.
"They've been awesome," said Strother (pronounced "Straw-ther") in a usabasketball.com interview during training camp. "They've treated me like they treat everyone else. I've known a lot of them from tournaments since I was little. I knew Diana (Taurasi, from UConn) from a tournament in Oregon that our club teams go to every year. I know some of them from other places also, so it's been nice."
During the Junior World Tournament in the Czech Republic, Strother averaged 6.4 points per game (tied for fifth on the team), helping the U.S. bring home the bronze medal. Her best game was July 15, when she led the team with 13 points as the United States beat China 84-52 It's an experience that will no doubt help her as she returns to Highlands Ranch for her senior season.
She'll have a hard time topping her junior season, though. Alongside previous High School Hero Katy Flecky, Strother averaged about 20 points and more than seven rebounds per game, leading Highlands Ranch to a 24-1 record and its second consecutive 5A state title. At the end of the season, she earned a pile of honors, including being named All-Colorado by the Denver Post, Colorado Player of the Year by USA Today, Colorado Ms. Basketball by the Rocky Mountain News. All this after missing her sophomore season with a torn ACL.
Strother's lanky build have led her high school teammates to dub her "Inspector Gadget." A versatile perimeter player, she patterns her game after the Los Angeles Sparks' DeLisha Milton. "She can post up, shoot outside, and can go to the basket," Strother said of Milton in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
As one of the top high school players in the country, Strother is the focus of intense recruiting efforts by some of the most successful college coaches in the country. "They call me at the hotel," she said in USA Today. "They call my cellphone. I just do the things I normally would be doing. I'm not changing my schedule." Luckily, her USA Basketball coaches and teammates promised to lay off the recruiting pitches during the Junior World tournament.
Among the schools she's considering are: Colorado, Connecticut, Duke, Georgia, Iowa State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Purdue, Stanford, Texas, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. By the fall, she plans to narrow that list down to five schools and sign early. "But if I don't know, I'll wait," she told USA Today.
Article written by Gball Associate Editor Jim Catalano.
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