February 10, 2022
Why USA Basketball chose Dearica Hamby
'I am excited, Hamby said, I don’t take basketball for granted'
The Aces forward is debuting with the national team in World Cup Qualifiers.
When the U.S. women’s basketball team takes the court on Friday for its first senior event since Tokyo, there will be one fresh face. Dearica Hamby is making her debut with the national team for the World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Washington, D.C. The remaining 11 players all have USAB experience, dating back to the junior level.
“I am excited,” Hamby said. “I don’t take basketball for granted, and I am kind of a late bloomer in basketball in general. It means a lot that I was considered to be in this group. Growing up, I didn’t get any USA Basketball experience, so it’s an honor.”
The national team generally targets players who make it to the Olympics or World Cup beginning in their teenage years. Hamby is seeking to be the exception to this rule. The Georgia native was not invited to camps for the World University Games or the Under-19 World Cup. Yet, she went on to become Wake Forest’s career scoring leader. She has also succeeded at the professional level. Hamby scored 11.6 points and grabbed 6.7 rebounds in an All-Star season last year with the Las Vegas Aces. The 6’3 forward was the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year in 2019 and 2020.
“I think my energy, my enthusiasm and how hard I play,” Hamby added on her traits that led her to being selected to the team. “Coach (Cheryl Reeve) picked some versatile fours. We are all kind of similar, between Natasha (Howard), Alyssa (Thomas) and I. But I think we all push it in transition and push the pace, so I think that is the value.”
Coach Reeve conducted the USAB training camp that began earlier this week. Coach Reeve said she was very excited about the 28-year-old Hamby.
“Dearica has been one of the players who has stood out the most,” Reeve said. “In terms of her size, her athleticism, her movement, she’s tough and she has been a pretty confident player, so through the first few meetings, I have enjoyed what she has brought to the table.”
Olympic gold medalist Chelsea Gray is Hamby’s teammate with the Aces and will be welcoming her to the national team.
“I was in her shoes not too long ago,” Gray said, “being the fresh, new player, and now I have a gold medal next to me on the couch. She looks awesome right now; I am happy for her and her family; her daughter is really proud. She has worked to get here, so I am glad she is doing really well.”
Hamby mentioned that a recent injury would not hold her back and she is healthy enough to play in the tournament. Belgium and Puerto Rico open the event on Thursday. The U.S., which has already qualified for the World Cup in Sydney, plays Belgium on Friday. The team will then meet Puerto Rico on Saturday. Belgium and Puerto Rico then travel to the Dominican Republic for games against Russia. And two of those three will advance to the World Cup in September.