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Courtney Ogden brings the full package to Stanford basketball

Courtney Ogden won a gold medal with the U18 U.S. team at the Americas Championship this past summer. (Photo courtesy of USA Basketball)

There’s no singularly obvious reason for Courtney Ogden’s success. JWS’ 10th-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023, Ogden is confident, focused and patient. She values her coaches, mentors and teammates. She puts in a tremendous amount of work both on the court and in the classroom.

The Stanford-bound guard has everything it takes to become a franchise player at the college level and beyond.

Ogden’s basketball journey began in elementary school. As a third grader, she was the only girl to attend the annual Dell Curry Camp in Charlotte, N.C. In an interview with Jr. NBA’s Elevate Series, she said that, despite her best efforts at the camp, none of the boys would pass her the ball. Ogden’s parents, Christopher and Carla, and Dell Curry himself encouraged her to keep working. If she persisted, they said, she would improve.

The term “Basketball IQ” is regularly thrown around in today’s game to describe athletes who have an elite ability to see plays develop before they unfold and to adapt at a moment’s notice.

Courtney Ogden exemplifies Basketball IQ. As with her commitment to the game, she has polished and developed that skill over time.

One influential teacher in Ogden’s life is trainer Dorian Lee, the CEO of B’Ball 101 who specializes in player development at all levels. Ogden began working with Lee in elementary school. The talented guard is one of thousands of players who have trained with Lee, and his impact is evident in her adaptability on the court.

While training with Lee, Ogden also joined an AAU team before she entered fifth grade.

In the state of Georgia, there’s a clear choice for young girls looking to improve their game on the AAU circuit: Atlanta-based program, Finest Basketball Club. Creator and coach Alfred “Mo” Motton has helped catapult young basketball players to the next level for nearly two decades.

FBC teams have collected hundreds of wins over the years. To play for a program of that caliber, and to shine while doing so, attracts attention no matter how old you are.

So, in the sixth grade, just three years after nobody would pass her the ball at the Dell Curry Camp, Ogden picked up her first Division I offer from then-coach MaChelle Joseph at Georgia Tech.

That same year, she enrolled at the Westminster School in Atlanta, where she played for the JV team as an eighth grader and moved up to varsity as a freshman. That season, she averaged a double-double while shooting 42 percent from the field. As a sophomore, she increased her field goal percentage to nearly 50 percent.

Ogden also excels in her community and in the classroom, prioritizing her education off the court. In 2021, she earned her a spot on the inaugural Jr. NBA Court of Leaders, a youth leadership council that connects student-athletes with opportunities to develop. In school, the senior has studied Mandarin since around the same time she got that first DI offer.

When she gets to college next year, Ogden can continue to grow at one of the world’s top universities and on a team that excels at developing guards while regularly vying for titles.

“Courtney is, plain and simple, a pure and excellent scorer,” Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said after Ogden signed with the program. “She’s a very physical player on both sides of the ball, loves to look for her 3-point shot and can knock them down.”

Ogden committed to Stanford in December of her junior year of high school, just months after breaking her ankle during the summer. The injury required surgery, causing her to miss the beginning of the Westminster season. After making a full recovery, Ogden exceeded expectations, averaging 18.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.2 blocks per game that season.

She was named a 2022 GHSA All-Georgia Honorable Mention and GHSA Class AAA First Team selection in addition to leading Westminster to the state semifinals.

Around the same time, she was also invited to her first USA Basketball roster tryout. Ogden earned a spot on the roster for the U18 Women’s Americas Championship in Argentina, despite being a year younger than most of the other players on the team.

Playing for Team USA is a unique learning experience due to the specific style of play the coaching staff demands. Those who make the roster must demonstrate their adaptability and talent to stick around.

U.S. U18 assistant coach DeLisha Milton-Jones, also currently the head coach at Old Dominion, describes Ogden as a skilled player with good size at the guard spot.

“Courtney is a triple-level scorer with good handles that allow her to penetrate the rim and finish through traffic,” she said.

Ogden and the U18 team, entering the Championship on a nine-tournament gold-medal streak, won gold again in Buenos Aires. Ogden averaged 2.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 14.5 minutes across five games as the U.S. went 6-0.

She returned to the States and wrapped up her club career this July at the GUAA U17 Championship, marking the culmination of more than a decade with FBC.

Though Ogden’s squad fell in the title game after four overtime periods, she and her teammates — including Alabama signee Essence Cody, UNC signee Reniya Kelly and 2024 standouts Jaloni Cambridge and Zamareya Jones — demonstrated just how effectively FBC prepares and develops its players for the next level.

Ogden continued to shine at the Elite 24 game in Chicago, where she put on a show alongside other dynamic five-star recruits.

She was also selected as one of nine athletes — and the only girls’ basketball player — to participate in UA Next’s The Workout. The Workout is an annual performance development weekend at Under Armour’s headquarters designed to push invited participants from a variety of sports through different workouts and activities, demonstrating what college athletics has in store.

And now, the 1,000-point scorer has begun her final season in a Westminster jersey as one of 10 student-athletes named to the 2022-23 Naismith Girls’ High School Player of the Year Preseason Watchlist.

The Westminster Wildcats have started the 2022-23 season 8-4 and resume play in the New Year. Ogden leads the team in scoring (21.3 points per game), rebounds (10.7) and steals (2.5).

Caroline Makauskas is a contributing writer for Just Women’s Sports. She also covers a variety of sports on her TikTok @cmakauskas. Follow her on Twitter @cmakauskas.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

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