LEXINGTON – It will be another summer draped in red, white and blue for University of Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard who has been selected to the 2019 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team after shinning in team trials over the weekend at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The 12-member team was selected by the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee, chaired by George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. Howard will return to Colorado Springs to train July 5-10 before traveling to Tokyo, Japan, where the squad will practice and scrimmage against the Japan U19 National Team July 13-15. The USA has an additional three days of training and a pair of scrimmages in Bangkok against Argentina and Germany, July 17-19, before the 13th edition of the FIBA U19 World Cup tips off July 20.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2005 and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year. USA women’s teams are 79-13 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record.
No. 1 in FIBA’s world youth women’s rankings, the USA in 2019 will play in preliminary round Group C and opens the competition July 20 against No. 7 Australia, followed by a July 21 contest against No. 15 South Korea. After a rest day, the USA will cap preliminary games July 23 against No. 14 Hungary. Following the preliminary round, all teams will advance to the July 24 round of 16. The winners of the round of 16 will advance to the July 26 medal quarterfinals, and the losers will play out for ninth-16th places. The semifinals will be played on July 27, and the gold and bronze medal games on July 28.
Howard has had success playing for Team USA in the past earning most valuable player honors last summer in Mexico helping the U18 team to a 5-0 gold-medal run. Howard shined in every game of the tournament, starting with six points, two rebounds, one assist and a steal vs. Argentina before seven points with eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal vs. Chile. In the final game of pool play vs. Puerto Rico, Howard had 11 points with six rebounds, six steals and one assist.
The guard continued to play well in the elimination rounds with eight points, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in the quarterfinals vs. El Salvador before 14 points, including 4-of-7 from long range with five assists, two blocks and two steals against Colombia. She locked up the top honor after her five points with four rebounds, four assists and two blocks vs. Canada in the title game. Howard recently competed in the 2019 USA Basketball Women's 3x3 National Championship in Las Vegas, leading her team to a second-place finish.
Howard is coming off an incredible first season at Kentucky where she was named a unanimous national freshman of the year by espnW, USBWA and WBCA. The national honors were added to her already lengthy list of honors this season as the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by league coaches and SEC Newcomer of the Year by the Associated Press. She was also named WBCA All-America honorable mention, first-team All-SEC, SEC All-Freshman Team and second-team All-SEC by the AP.
All the postseason awards are on top of Howard being named SEC Freshman of the Week eight times this season, setting the program and league record for most rookie of the week awards. The SEC honors came on Nov. 13, 27, Dec. 11, 23, Jan. 8, Feb. 12, 19 and 26. She was named National Freshman of the Week on Dec. 26 by USBWA, the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.
The guard put herself in elite company this season as she is only the second freshman in program history to lead the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding as a rookie, joining UK All-American Valerie Still. Howard ended the season leading UK with 16.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while she ranked second with 68 steals and 74 3-pointers made and third in assists and blocks. She scored in double figures in 26 games with 20 or more points in 10 games and five double-doubles while she was the only freshman in the country with 500+ points, 70+ 3s, 75+ assists and 65+ steals while she ranked third among freshmen nationally in points and points per game.
Howard is all over nearly every UK freshman single-season record, sitting second in points, second in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game, first in 3-pointers made, third in 3-point field goal percentage, third in steals, second in double-figure scoring games and fifth in double-figure rebounding games.