Five ballers who broke out at the FIBA U19 WWC
MADRID (Spain) - We enjoyed seeing the All-Star Five, the Second Team and the Player Power Rankings, but which ballers used the FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2023 to drop onto the radar?
Here's some of the players who might not have gained wider recognition during the competition itself, but can lay claim to having posted a breakout tournament in a national team jersey.
Chloe Kitts - USA
Tournament Statistics: 15.9 EFF; 10.7 PPG; 8.0 RPG
Kitts was arguably unfortunate not to be named to the All-Star Five or Second Team since she had a fine tournament, including a near double-double of 15 points and 9 rebounds in the title game against Spain. While she was part of last year's U18 team that won gold, she was not as prominent and there were doubts in some quarters whether she would make the roster for Madrid. But to her absolute credit, she made the most of being selected and really used this platform to showcase her talent and potential.
Annaelle Dutat - France
Tournament Statistics: 20.3 EFF; 9.0 PPG; 12.6 RPG; 3.6 SPG
While Dutat had shown glimpses of her potential at two previous U18 tournaments, her debut at the global level saw her elevate her game to a new tier. She was deservedly handed the Best Defensive Player award for her work in helping France come close to landing bronze. Her 3.6 steals per game and her immense work on the glass were instrumental in her team making it to the last four.
Vittoria Blasigh - Italy
Tournament Statistics: 16.9 PPG; 4.1 APG; 3.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG
In previous tournaments, Blasigh had attained modest numbers and her highest points tally was back in 2019 when she averaged just over 9.0 points per outing. From three previous FIBA competitions not breaking double-figures, she erupted when she set foot on the court and transformed her offensive output with just a shade under 17 points per game. While it proved to be a largely forgettable campaign for Italy, the guard's displays were a real success story - even if her last outing was far from her best.
Nanami Tsuno - Japan
Tournament Statistics: 15.1 EFF; 12.0 PPG; 5.3 RPG; 4.7 APG;
In only her second FIBA tournament, Tsuno really did make everyone sit up and take notice of her performance as she highlighted her skills with some excellent play. She was part of the Japan team that finished in sixth place, although they had promised more after their excellent unbeaten work topping their group. The guard showed a nice balance between scoring and creating and also did the dirty work on the glass too.
Sira Thienou - Mali
Tournament Statistics: 17.3 EFF; 15.4 PPG; 5.7 RPG; 3.0 APG; 2.7 SPG
While all the attention was deservedly on her high-achieving teammate Maimouna Haidara, the stellar work of Thienou was left a little in the shade, so now it's time to bring it into the light. She was also instrumental in Mali taking a superb top-five finish, regularly backing up her colleague's leading displays with superb cameos and on a couple of occasions arguably outshining Haidara. It was impressive!