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Jada Williams talks USA Basketball, training routine in ‘No Days Off’

Jada Williams is currently the class of 2023’s No. 15 overall recruit in JWS’ latest high school basketball recruiting rankings. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/USA Basketball)

Following a summer in which she claimed gold with Team USA at the U17 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary, Jada Williams caught up with Whistle Sports on the latest episode of “No Days Off,” which was released Tuesday.

The energetic 17-year-old discussed her experience with Team USA, including the moment she discovered she made the team and what the platform means to her to represent her country.

“I’m protesting a lot. I want change in America,” Williams said. “I’m playing on this platform. I’m putting on for what I want the country to look like, what my people want the country to look like. We’re sitting up there thinking we can change the world. We can make this a good country.”

Williams was joined on Team USA by fellow La Jolla Country Day School (Calif.) teammate Breya Cunningham, both of whom are committed to the University of Arizona after Williams flipped from her decision to join UCLA on Aug. 1.

As a junior in 2021-22, Williams averaged 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Torreys. She’s currently the class of 2023’s No. 15 overall recruit in Just Women Sports’ latest high school basketball recruiting rankings.

“She can play point. She can shoot the ball well if she needs to just be a spot-up shooter,” said pro basketball skills trainer Justin Razooky, who’s also featured in the episode doing drills with Williams. “She can play defense. She takes charges. She dives for loose balls, so she’s like an ideal player.”

The episode also includes a segment where Williams is training with Dorian Crawford, owner of D.C. Athletics. Crawford works with Williams to improve her speed, strength and mobility.

“She’s not a diva. She puts in the work,” Crawford said. “All I’ve got to do is just sharpen her tools up.”

Williams also talks about receiving surprise visits from LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, the latter of which occurred when she was on a visit to UCLA prior to the NBA superstar’s tragic death in 2020.

Over the years, Williams has cultivated a massive audience through her social media accounts, with more than 639,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 344,000 followers on TikTok.

“People actually like who I am, so I just made sure I was who I am to social media so I didn’t have to go out in public and act like somebody I’m not,” Williams said. “All my followers and supporters were like, ‘Oh my god, she’s real. She talks the same as everybody else does. She dances on TikTok the same way everybody else does.’

“I think being real is something that made it easier for me to be able to mentor people because I’m not putting on a front. This is actually who I am.”

As she enters her final varsity season this winter, Williams is preparing for the next level by getting stronger, making sure she knows how to use her body as a small guard, ensuring her efficiency beyond the arc, understanding how to create ways to get open, fine-tuning the little things and learning how to play down low against bigger competition.

“The advice I would give to the younger hoopers that are trying to get to a platform that I’m on, I would definitely say to use your platform for things that you believe in,” Williams said. “Don’t try to be somebody that you’re not because it’s going to drain you out and stress you.

“I would definitely say if you don’t believe in yourself, then no one’s going to believe in you for you, so make sure that you are doing things that are going to help you get to where you want to go. Don’t let anyone tell you what your dreams are. Be able to smile and have fun. You’re going to have good days and bad days, but make sure at the end that you’re being you.”

Trent Singer is the High School Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @trentsinger.

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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