On Andra Espinoza-Hunter's first visit to Mexico, her mother, Patty, got her what is now her favorite necklace.
The Class of 2017 University of Connecticut commit is back in Mexico and she's hoping to come home with a gold medal around her neck.
Espinoza-Hunter and the United States U-16 national team begin play at the FIBA Americas U-16 Championship Wednesday in Puebla, Mexico. Team USA faces Argentina at 7 p.m. in its Group A opener.
"We're going to work hard because we want to win the gold medal," Espinoza-Hunter said. "Everyone is excited to get started.
"I think we'll be a fast team and we do a great job playing an uptempo game. We're very aggressive and also we're a team with a high basketball IQ. We know that it's important we do the right things."
Espinoza-Hunter -- a 5-foot-11 guard from Ossining, New York, and Blair Academy in New Jersey -- is representing her country for the first time having made the U-16 squad after trials in Colorado Springs last month.
The players returned to the United States Olympic Training Center on June 14 for a week-long training camp and arrived in Mexico on Sunday.
"Our team has come along well and we improved during training camp," Espinoza-Hunter said. "We're excited to get going and the competition is going to be challenging. We're going to have to play really well as a team.
"It means everything to be able to represent our country. A speaker at training camp told us that while there were 149 girls at the trials last month, there are 14 million playing basketball and we were the 12 that were selected to wear the USA uniform. This means a lot to us and I know that I feel blessed."
Joining Espinoza-Hunter on Team USA are Jayda Adams (5-11 guard, Santa Ana, California), Desiree Caldwell (5-6 guard, San Antonio, Texas), Aquira DeCosta (6-2 forward, Stockton, California), Honesty Scott-Grayson (5-10 guard, Brick, New Jersey), Destiny Littleton (5-9 guard, San Diego, California), Lauryn Miller (6-2 forward, Kirkwood, Missouri), Alexis Morris (5-6 guard, Beaumont, Texas), Valencia Myers (6-3 center, Solon, Ohio), Sedona Prince (6-7 center, Liberty, Texas), Bexley Wallace (6-3 forward, Pickerington, Ohio), and Jade Williams (6-4 forward/center, The Colony, Texas).
Scott-Grayson, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2018 and a player UConn has shown early interest in, will join Espinoza-Hunter at Blair Academy next season.
"I've known Honesty for awhile and I'm excited to play with her," Espinoza-Hunter said. "We know each other's game. I'll go, 'Honesty, go here.' She'll go, 'Andy, do this.' I think we really complement each other."
Team USA will continue Group A pool play Thursday at 3 p.m. against Honduras and then finish up with host Mexico Friday at 9 p.m. The semifinals begin Saturday at 7 p.m. The bronze medal game is Sunday at 7 p.m. followed by the gold-medal game.
The semifinalists from the eight-team FIBA Americas event qualify for the 2016 FIBA U-17 world championships.