BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Dawn Staley has been a part of USA Basketball for more than 20 years. The 2013 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee won Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000, and 2004 as a player and was an assistant coach on the team that won gold in 2008.
So the University of South Carolina head coach and assistant to Geno Auriemma on the United States squad that will take part in the 2014 FIBA world championships has seen it all. This summer, she watched a young player in her debut in international play make a strong first impression.
UConn Class of 2015 commit Napheesa Collier played for Staley with the U-18 national team that won gold at the FIBA Americas tournament in Colorado Springs last month and qualified for the 2015 U-19 world championships to be held in Russia and a date to be determined.
"Napheesa was great," Staley said Sunday. "She's relentless. She plays hard all of the time, and it doesn't matter if it's a game or if it's practice. She sets the tone for how the game should be played. She sets a great example for others."
Collier, a 6-foot-1 forward from O'Fallon, Missouri, averaged 14.0 points which was second-best on the club, a team-leading 8.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in 22.2 minutes as Team USA rolled to a 5-0 record. She shot 56.3 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent (5-for-9) from 3-point land. She and El Salvador's Hillary Martinez were the only players to rank in the Top 10 in points, rebounds, assists, and steals in the event.
She had double-doubles in pool-play wins over El Salvador and Canada. And in the gold medal game against Canada, Collier had 18 points and six rebounds in a 104-74 rout.
"She's probably one of the most efficient players on both of the sides of the ball," Staley said. "She made stuff happen. She's a magnet for the ball, a great offensive rebounder that can knock down open shots from inside and outside the 3-point line. She picked up things well and was a pleasure to work with."
After the U-18 tournament, Collier joined with fellow UConn Class of 2015 commits Katie Lou Samuelson and De'Janae Boykin and former UConn recruiting target Arike Ogunbowale to win the gold medal in the 3x3 competition at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Auriemma's United States senior national team -- which includes his staff of assistants Staley, DePaul University coach Doug Bruno, and Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve -- takes on Canada in an exhibition game Monday night at Webster Bank Arena.