A towering figure in the college game, Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks hit the hardwood with some true giants of the game at the USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s training camp.
The All-Pac-12 performer out of the University of Oregon was among a handful of college stars among the 20 players invited to participate in a three-day event in Columbia, South Carolina, to determine World Cup roster spots.
The 6-foot-4 forward had a blast rubbing elbows with WNBA players on and off the court.
“It was honestly a great experience,” Hebard told me. “I’m glad I went. I knew I was going home. They told me from the start they just wanted me to come for three days and get experience in so that lifted some stress off me.”
Hebard, of West Valley High fame, suited up for Team USA Red and came off the bench to log 15 minutes in a 100-75 loss to Team USA White.
She grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to go with four points and one blocked shot.
“The game was fun,” Hebard said. “I’m just glad I got to go and be around top players.”
Last season as a sophomore at Oregon, Hebard enjoyed a historic campaign in which she:
Set the NCAA record for consecutive field goals (33) for men and women;
Broke her school’s single-season record for field-goal percentage (.660);
Earned All-Pac-12 honors and All-American honorable mention recognition;
Won the Katrina McClain National Power Forward of the Year award;
Became the fastest Alaska woman to reach 1,000 career points at D1 level.
She also won a gold medal at the USA Basketball women’s 3-on-3 national tournament with some Oregon teammates.
It was her third medal as a member of USA Basketball. She also won gold with the U18 team at the FIBA Americas tournament in 2016 and a silver with the U19s at the FIBA World Cup in 2017.
She won’t win a World Cup medal this year – but don’t count her out in the future.
Hebard’s presence at the Team USA tryout reminded her of her bright future but at the same time reminded her that she’s still not quite ready to make the jump to the pro game. She needs more polish.
“I am glad I have two years left of college to expand my game,” she said, “but I know that I can be a pro and will be if I work hard, and God willing, I will be a top pro player.”
Hebard rubbed elbows with current WNBA players at the tryout and tried to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
Hebard at USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s training camp
She made quick friends with former No. 1 pick Tina Charles of the New York Liberty.
“Tina talked to me a lot on the court. She helped me out in the post,” Hebard said.
She also hung out with Stephanie Dolson of the Chicago Sky and Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces.
“We all talked about professional life and all that stuff,” Hebard said. “All the players were nice on and off the court. I know for sure I grew as a person.”