Samantha Brunelle is ranked as the No. 1 girls basketball player in the nation in the Class of 2019. Brunelle has returned to USA Basketball and is the most experienced member of the Women’s U16 National Team that is playing in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship this week in Buenos Aires. Brunelle, a 6-2 forward from William Monroe (Ruckersville, Va.), has agreed to share her experiences in Argentina with USA TODAY High School Sports. Here is her first entry:
It’s a blessing to be able to wear USA across your chest. You’re not just representing yourself. You are representing the whole country and you need to do that really well. All of us just know that this is not an individual thing, this is a team thing and we’re doing it for all the right reasons.
Sunday was a long day. We had a practice before we left Colorado Springs at camp. We went to Denver and flew from Denver to Houston. We had a little layover and then went from Houston to Argentina through the night. Sleep was limited, but it was still a nice trip.
We got here Monday, went to the hotel and had a little scrimmage with Canada. It was nice to play against another team instead of just ourselves. I’ve gotten to know my teammates and what they like to do. It’s not like I can go out on the floor right now against Canada and say, I know what she’s going to do right now. You have to play it the best you know how to play it. We took a lot from that and that was really good for us.
We practiced Tuesday — half at the arena where the games are going to be and half at a big soccer stadium. They took us around and let us look at the field and the stadium. I’d never been inside a pro soccer stadium before. It was nice to see.
So far, the team has bonded so well together. The chemistry is really there. That’s not to say it wasn’t there last year when we won the bronze but I think our mindsets were a bit different. All the girls have asked me what the difference is from last year to this year. Everybody has to be of the same mindset. If one of us isn’t thinking about it, gold is not what we are going to get. We all have to want the same and go out there and play basketball.
My teammates won’t get the full effect on how the international fans are going to be in a game yet, but I’ve talked to them about it and my experiences about it. We’re all going to have to deal with it. Everybody seems good about adjusting to the international rules. We’re playing pretty decently right now and we can only get better.
As far as being ranked as the No. 1 player, not many know about me outside the country. It’s a good thing in that I can be a little bit of a surprise. The rankings stuff are just numbers. I try not to think about that anyway. I just go out and try to play basketball. It’s nice to know that people think you’re that talented, but you still have to get on the floor and prove it, too.