Siegrist, a Poughkeepsie native, plays with the USA Basketball 3×3 team

For the first time in a long time, Maddy Siegrist feels a bit out of place and lacking in confidence. She already anticipates certain difficulties, even barriers, and admits that it will not always be easy to express oneself.

“I might be able to come up with some basic sentences,” she said. “But I don’t know how much else I have.”

Yes, those high school Spanish lessons tend to fade without regular practice.

However, the lenguaje del baloncesto is universal.

Continuing a basketball journey that took the Poughkeepsie native further than she ever dreamed, Siegrist arrived in the Dominican Republic Thursday night ready to represent the United States.

The Villanova University senior was among six college hoop stars selected to USA Basketball’s 23-and-under women’s 3×3 team that will compete in an International Basketball Federation tournament, beginning this weekend. end.

“It’s such an honor, not only to play for my school and my community, but for the country,” Siegrist told the Journal. “It’s not even something I dreamed of. I didn’t think I would ever have such an opportunity. »

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Then the opportunity came – well, called – last month. After a stellar college season that culminated in her nomination as Big East Player of the Year, Siegrist was invited by USA Basketball to audition in Miami.

The tryouts lasted three days, featuring some of the nation’s top college players showcasing their skills in two daily two-hour practice and scrimmage sessions. From the pool, six players were picked earlier this week for the roster that will take part in the 3-on-3 tournament, which will take place August 13-19 in Santo Domingo. The format, of course, deviates from the standard 5-on-5 model most often used in organized basketball.

“We do some of these drills (3 on 3) in schools, so it wasn’t unheard of for me,” Siegrist said of the practices at Villanova. “It’s still an adjustment because they’re new teammates and it’s not the style we’re most used to, but it’s something that has become more popular in recent years.”

Six NCAA stars have been selected to USA Basketball's 23-U Women's 3x3 Team, which competes in the FIBA ​​3x3 Nations League in the Dominican Republic this month.  The list includes Aaliyah Moore, Maddy Siegrist, Celeste Taylor, Alyssa Ustby, Kayla Wells and Maddy Westbeld.

If the team is successful here, they could possibly play a literal game around the world.

The FIBA ​​3×3 Nations League, in its fifth year, is a 3v3 team competition for men and women under the age of 23. It is essentially a development program, allowing athletes to sharpen their skills in preparation, potentially, for future events such as the FIBA ​​World Cup and the Olympics.

This tournament features 57 teams grouped together and competing in different geographical regions, including several divisions in Africa, Europe and Asia.

The United States will be part of a group of six “Americas” teams ― with Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela ― split into two pools. The teams will compete each day in two snooker matches, with the winners advancing to a final game in the evening. This will continue for all six days and the top performing teams from each group will advance to the final in Romania next month.

Siegrist is joined on the U.S. roster by Aaliyah Taylor, Alyssa Utsby (North Carolina), Kayla Wells (Texas A&M), Maddy Westbeld (Notre Dame) and Celeste Taylor, a Long Island native who plays for Duke.

“I knew them, but I didn’t know any of them before we were together here,” the Our Lady of Lourdes High School graduate said of her new teammates. “I think we’ll be able to build chemistry quickly, though. We used our time at the airport and hotel to get to know each other and connecting on the ground shouldn’t be that hard.

Villanova's Maddy Siegrist (20) shoots Connecticut's Christyn Williams (13) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Siegrist drew cheers from the group after sweeping a half-court shot during Friday morning practice, footage of which was shared on USA Basketball’s 3×3 Twitter account.

These players serve as something of a basketball ambassador, with this tournament and others like it helping to further globalize the sport.

“I’ve never competed in anything like this before, in international competition,” said Siegrist, who had previously vacationed in Kenya and a few Caribbean countries. “But it’s really cool to see the game continue to grow and hopefully be part of that growth.”

A versatile scorer with length and shooting touch, the 6-foot-1 forward was twice named the Journal’s High School Player of the Year and went on to dominate at Villanova. Siegrist was the nation’s second-leading scorer last winter as a redshirt junior, averaging 25.3 points and 9.2 rebounds to power the Wildcats’ resurgent season.

“I haven’t really allowed myself to stop and think about it too much, but I’m always amazed at where this game has taken me,” she said. “It’s a blessing and I know I’m lucky to have had this success and to have these opportunities through basketball.”

Stephen Haynes: [email protected]; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @StephenHaynes4

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