June 30, 2023
From Columbia to Team USA: How Abbey Hsu made the AmeriCup roster
A summer of red, white and Hsu
As Columbia women’s basketball head coach Megan Griffith waited earlier this month to hear whether her star guard Abbey Hsu had made Team USA, she knew the news would come in one of two ways. If it was good news, Hsu would FaceTime her. If it was bad, Hsu would just text.
Griffith got a FaceTime.
On June 22, Hsu was selected as one of 12 collegiate players who will suit up for Team USA in the FIBA AmeriCup in Leon, Mexico, from July 1-9. She will be just the second Ivy League player ever to play for a United States senior women’s national team in five-on-five basketball, according to USA Basketball. (The first was Princeton’s Bella Alarie, who won a silver medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.) She is also the first player representing any mid-major program to be selected to a U.S. AmeriCup roster since 1997.
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Hsu’s selection comes on the heels of a standout junior season for the Lions. She led Columbia to an Ivy League regular-season championship and the WNIT final, averaging 17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. She also ranked second nationally in 3-pointers made per game (3.3) on 37.7% shooting. At the end of the season, Hsu was named a WBCA All-America Honorable Mention and was a unanimous First-Team All-Ivy League selection.
“Not only is she one of the hardest-working players in the country, she’s one of the most talented players in the country,” Griffith told reporters over Zoom on June 23.
This was the first time Hsu had been invited to try out for, let alone made, a USA team, so she didn’t know what to expect when she first arrived in Colorado Springs in May. But Griffith gave her a confidence boost, telling her, “You’re going to make the team.”
As a result, “in the back of my head, I kind of had that expectation for myself,” Hsu said on the same Zoom call.
During the five-day trials in May, Hsu was one of 22 players battling for 12 roster spots. Eight spots were decided then, and six other players, including Hsu, were named finalists for the four remaining spots. “Warm up lap,” Griffith tweeted after the finalists were announced.
The finalists had to wait until a training camp June 21-22 to prove themselves again, and then they waited for individual meetings to find out whether they had made the roster.
“My heart was beating through the roof, and I was pretty anxious,” Hsu said of waiting for the meeting. The good news took her some time to process, but as she started calling her family and coaches, “slowly [it] just started setting in, like, ‘Oh, you’re not going home. You’re staying here for the long run.’”
The USA coaching staff, led by Washington State’s Kamie Ethridge, will likely rely on Hsu to space the court and shoot from deep. She made more 3-pointers last season and shot a better percentage from beyond the arc (minimum 40 makes) than any other player on the AmeriCup roster. Only two players — then-Wake Forest guard Jewel Spear and Oregon guard Chance Gray — made even half as many 3-pointers as Hsu did last season.
“I think I did kind of carve out this role of shooting the ball,” Hsu said. “So I think that is definitely expected of me.”
Related reading: The growing confidence of Columbia’s Abbey Hsu
The team departed Colorado Springs for Leon on June 27 and scrimmaged Canada on June 28 as part of its preparation for the tournament. Hsu is enjoying the chance to learn from the coaching staff and from teammates such as LSU’s Angel Reese, the 2023 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and former No. 1 overall recruit Lauren Betts of UCLA.
“These girls are pretty much famous, in my opinion. You see them all over your social media feeds,” Hsu said. “… To be able to step on the same court, compete against them and play on their same team, first of all, you’re learning so much. And it gives you this reassurance that hey, I could also play with these players, too.
“And yeah, it’s an exciting time … I’m just trying to soak it all in.”
Griffith believes that making the AmeriCup roster will help give Hsu a similar platform to her USA teammates who play for Power 5 programs. Though Hsu already owns Columbia’s record for career 3-pointers and is nearing its all-time scoring record, many casual fans of the sport haven’t seen her play. But after next season, she could very well become Columbia’s first-ever WNBA draft pick.
“[This experience is] going to catapult her into a different stratosphere in terms of how [she fits] into the professional leagues,” Griffith said. “… She’s a [future] WNBA draftee … and, in my opinion, she should be a lottery pick. And I think for her, this just is going to put her on a platform for people to understand how good of a player she really is.
“And I think the coaches that are gonna be coaching her and the scouts that are gonna be watching her, they’re just gonna see her in a different light being associated with USA Basketball. So … this is just a fantastic opportunity to elevate herself, elevate her future and elevate this program.”
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Hsu is looking to help Team USA win its third straight gold medal in the AmeriCup, which is contested every other year between teams across North and South America. Though the U.S. is sending collegiate players, their opponents are generally sending their full senior national teams. Hsu sees that as an opportunity not only to face different styles of play, but also to learn from playing against veterans.
Hsu will officially trade Columbia blue for USA red, white and blue for the first time on Saturday, when Team USA plays Venezuela. It’ll be another pinch-me moment for her in a long line of them lately.
“Having the American flag on our gear and just knowing, yeah, you’re actually representing your country?” Hsu told PIX11 Sports’ Perry Sook. “… That statement, I don’t think it’s ever gonna settle in.”
Written by Jenn Hatfield
Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats, FanSided and Power Plays.