Moriah Jefferson was the American Athletic Conference's 2015 Most Improved Player.
The University of Connecticut women's basketball team's senior All-American and the reigning Nancy Lieberman Award winner as the nation's top point guard believes that there's a higher level for her and her game to reach.
"I thought I had a pretty good year last year, but it wasn't how I really wanted it," Jefferson said. "I thought I did a lot of good things, but I also did a lot of bad things. So I'm looking to come out this year and be a lot better than I was last year.
"I really am hard on myself," she added.
Jefferson will see where her work since the end of the Huskies' third straight national championship season has taken her this week when she and fellow UConn senior All-American Breanna Stewart lead the United States into action at the Pan-American Games in Toronto.
Team USA opens Group A pool play Thursday against Brazil. The basketball competition runs through Monday.
Jefferson was named to the Pan-Am team after trials in Colorado Springs in May. She then spent a couple of weeks at her home in Glenn Heights, Texas, before returning to UConn for the first summer school session. Team USA reunited for a training camp at the United States Olympic Training Center on July 3 before heading to Toronto a week ago.
"When I was at home I was making 700 shots per day," Jefferson said. "I have a rec center near home where I'm pretty close with the manager so I could use the (shooting) gun and get in there. The ball comes right back to you and you get lost. you don't even realize you are shooting that many shots.
"Then you come to school and Shea (assistant coach Ralph) is pushing you constantly when you are dead tired to have to make all these shots in a row. That all helps."
Jefferson averaged 12.4 points as a junior and reached the 1,000 plateau. She led the AAC in assists (4.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (school-record plus-3.08), and steals (2.6). She was also tops in 3-point shooting (49.6) and third in field goal percentage (58.7).
What's forgotten by most now is that Jefferson started the season slowly including forgettable games that saw her shoot 2-for-7 from the floor in UConn's lone loss at Stanford and missed all eight of her shots at Notre Dame. And her assist-to-turnover ratio was not Jefferson-like.
But in her last 30 games, she shot 62.9 percent from the floor, 55.2 percent from behind the arc, and 91.6 percent from the foul line to go with an assist-to-turnover ratio of plus-3.53.
"I had bad games at the beginning of last year so I have to be able to stay consistent throughout," Jefferson said. "There were some games where I had at least four turnovers and that is just unacceptable, especially as the point guard. You have to make sure you limit that to one or two per game. I will try to do that. Defensively, off the ball, I need to try to get better on some things there and I have to make my shots more consistently."
Jefferson's appearance in the Pan-Am Games will be her third time playing for USA Basketball. She won gold medals at the 2012 FIBA Americas U-18 tournament and the 2013 FIBA U-19 world championships.
Representing her country means a lot to her, particularly since she came up short the first three times she tried out for a national team.
"I know what it feels like to be cut, because I've been there," Jefferson said. "The past couple of years I've been on a team, but I've never taken anything for granted. I go in there and play my hardest every play."
Jefferson could face some of the toughest competition of her young career in Toronto. A number of countries were expected to send their senior national teams to compete as they use the Pan-Am Games as preparation for an Olympic qualifier to be held in Edmonton in August. The United States has already assured itself a berth in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro by winning the gold at the 2014 FIBA world championships.
After facing Brazil, the Americans will continue Group A play against the Dominican Republic on Friday and Puerto Rico on Saturday. All their pool play games start at 9 p.m. The semifinals are Sunday with the bronze medal and gold medal games Monday.
Competing in Group B will be Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Venezuela. If Team USA faces Canada in either the semifinals or medal round, Jefferson could end up guarding her running mate in UConn's backcourt -- Kia Nurse.
"She is my teammate and I love her to death," Jefferson said. "But anytime you can play against them, especially in that setting being where we are representing our country, I can't wait for it."
Nurse and Team Canada open play Thursday against Venezuela then face Argentina Friday and Cuba on Saturday. All their pool play games start at 6 p.m.