Aaliyah Edwards – Canada
While Christina Morra was Canada’s representative in the All-Star Five last year at the FIBA U18 Americas Women’s Championship, there is arguably an even bigger buzz around Edwards. She was named MVP of the prestigious Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp and that added to her encouraging showing last year at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2018 in Minsk. She was also selected to the senior Canada team for their 2019 European tour and having built up some momentum, it will be fun to watch the forward show her skills.
Nanako Todo – Japan
A driving force for Japan in their run to the Final of the FIBA U18 Asian Women’s Championship last year, Todo is equipped with multiple skills and is an ever-present danger. The small forward is like lightning across the floor and will tear opponents down with her all-around game that saw her riding high in India last year across all the categories including points, rebounds, assists and efficiency. She has also now played brief minutes in the Japanese League with the Toyota Boshoku Sunshine Rabbits of Aichi.
Rhyne Howard – USA
Howard is on a big roll heading into this tournament and as USA look to climb back onto the top of the podium after the shock loss to Russia two years ago, she will be integral to the seven-time champions achieving this aim. Crowned the MVP of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship for Women 2018, she has since went on to impress in the NCAA at Kentucky. In fact, the imposing guard was a unanimous pick as the Freshman of the Year after racking up more than 16 points and 6 boards per game – quite an output for a backcourt star.
Florencia Chagas – Argentina
If you want entertainment and passion in equal measures – plus a whole load of talent, then look no further than Chagas, who will carry the torch for Argentina in this competition. Her highlights reel at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup was seriously lit as she managed to accumulate a historical triple-double along the way. She was also in the All-Star Five of the FIBA U18 Americas Championship for Women and has since made her EuroLeague Women debut with Famila Schio, revealing how she is inspired by WNBA standout and club teammate Allie Quigley. She will score, create and always bring the noise when it comes to adding a touch of craziness and flair.
Leonie Fiebich – Germany
With FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship MVP and Oregon forward Nyara Sabally not likely to feature, much of the responsibility to take Germany on a deep run during their debut tournament could fall upon the shoulders of Fiebich. She made the All-Star Five in Udine last year alongside her teammate and it is her versatility across multiple positions that makes her such a potential ‘X-Factor’. She has such a nice wing-span, is competitive, can score, rebound and showed her qualities in the DBBL at TSV 1880 Wasserburg last season.
While Assetou Sissoko was MVP of the FIBA U18 African Women’s Championship and led her team brilliantly alongside fellow All-Star Five member Aminata Sangare, it is perhaps Kone who is best placed to do the most damage in Bangkok. She was perhaps unfortunate to miss out on personal honors in Maputo last year as Mali won gold yet again off the back of her spectacular 25 points, 17 boards, 7 assists and 6 blocks in the title game, That followed on from her special tournament double-double at the FIBA Women’s U17 Basketball World Cup 2018. She is a powerhouse and absolute beast on the glass and a tough assignment for any defender in the paint.
Reka Dombai – Hungary
Dombai is such an incredible performer who starred at the U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup last year and has killed it in the highly rated Hungarian League, where she was one of the leading scorers. Her talent and production has also resulted in a big move to CMB Cargo Uni Gyor meaning EuroCup Women action in 2019-20. Most recently she has been stacking up more plaudits for her amazing showing in the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship in Sarajevo which secured an All-Star Five spot. She might not look the most athletic or quick but that deception kills her opposing defenders and she can score from all over the court. If she still has enough gas left in the tank of course.
Mayra Caicedo – Colombia
These are heady times for women’s youth basketball for Colombia as they prepare to make more history. In 2018 they made their debut at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup and now, they are about to write another exciting chapter with a first outing at this event. A lot of this progress has been down to a talented generation which has been led by Caicedo, with her work sealing a place in the All-Star Five at the U18 Americas last year. Almost 17 points and 5 assists per game speaks volumes about her capabilities.
Jaz Shelley – Australia
All eyes will be on the talented rising star for several reasons, but not least because she has committed to go to Oregon and start her NCAA career in the Fall and comes into this tournament with praise ringing in her ears. Shelley was voted the WNBA Rookie of the Year for 2018-19 and that is a huge honor. She will look to pull the strings as the Gems look to make up for their wake-up call last year at the U18 Asia tournament. The guard was part of the historic title-winning Sapphires at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2016 and also played as the youngest member of the team at the last edition of this competition in Udine two years ago.
Laura Meldere – Latvia
Meldere has turned heads by collecting personal accolades as well as team silverware on a regular basis. The 18-year-old smashed it in Bourges two years ago at U16 and her maturity was demonstrated by the fact that she played at U20 the same summer – against players three and four years older. She has since shone brightly at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup and will feature at the pending U19 Worlds. She also went to Italy to evolve her game and she has been playing for the Reyer Venezia U18 side. A 2019 Baltic Sea Cup MVP, teams struggle to contain her strength in the post, shooting skills, excellent fundamentals and willingness to face up. She has also impressed recently at the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship in Sarajevo.
Maria Pendande – Spain
With Spain seemingly opting not to turn to Helena Pueyo or Raquel Carrera who both played significant roles in helping to book a ticket to Bangkok, it will mean that Pendande will be even more prominently at the top of opposing scouting reports. She is already on the radar because of her points and rebounds production, which was recognized with a spot on the All-Star Five team in Udine last year at the U18 Europeans. Powerful, very mobile and efficient, Spain need her to hit top gear again in this one.
Norika Konno – Japan
Konno is a joy to watch because of her dynamic style and she caught the eye of everybody in a big way last year in Bengaluru at the FIBA U18 Asian Women’s Championship. A talented performer at 3×3 level as well, the player known as ‘Saki’ (or Bloom in Japanese) is a big fan of senior star Manami Fujioka and will soon be headed to the NCAA with Louisville. Intensity, speed, scoring, a three-point danger and always crashing the boards well for her position, she can be basketball dynamite on any given day.
Billie Massey – Belgium
A former MVP of the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp and also the MVP of the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship two years ago when taking Belgium to a historic first title, Massey is the centerpiece of the team. She is a powerful player who will bring an inside presence, but also use her nice passing skills to good effect. Watch for her as a go-to player on offense and also look to block some shots at the other end of the court. She will line-up with her sister Becky Massey. Last season the forward impressed in EuroCup Women with Sint-Katelinje.
Jihyun Park – Korea
Just when Korea were looking for someone in the long term to support WNBA player Jisu Park at senior level, the emergence of Jiyhun is perfectly timed. She made her debut at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup last year and while it probably came too soon to make much of an impact, the teenager will inevitably be tasked with getting Korea back on the centre of the senior basketball map. For now though, her focus will be on being the leader of her team in Bangkok and repeating the kind of form from U18 Asia last year when she dominated her team’s line in points, rebounds, steals and efficiency.
Filipa Calisto – Mozambique
Calisto was the darling of the home floor in Maputo last year at the FIBA U18 Women’s African Championship when she helped her team take a silver medal and most importantly, a debut ticket to the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup. A place in the All-Star Five was met with the biggest cheer of the night from the locals and she will need to repeat that level of influence when they take their first footsteps. She actually missed the Final against Mali and that was when everyone realized her importance as Mozambique were swept aside.
Yuan Li – China
A tough and talented guard, last year’s FIBA Asian Women’s Championship MVP will be the heart and soul of a China side looking to land a belated podium place. It’s a long time since they had a medal hanging around their necks at this event, so Li will have to bring her ‘A-Game’. If she does, she will be hard to live with for her opponents. She can also call upon the valuable experience of having been with the senior China team in Tenerife last year at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Points, assists, composure in the clutch? You have it with this fine playmaker!
Fran Belibi – USA
The forward is gunning for another gold medal after being part of the USA side that rode their way to the title last year at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup. Her athleticism is incredible and the excitement surrounding her has rocketed even more since she announced she was ‘Dunk-Ready for Bangkok‘. Her throw-downs have went viral multiple times and the Stanford commit is only the second female player to win the dunk contest at the McDonald’s All American Game – the previous being Candace Parker back in 2004. Plus, Belibi is about a whole lot more than dunking, so whether she makes history or not with a poster play, she is a lock for healthy numbers in points and rebounds.
Yada Sriharaksa – Thailand
Sriharaska top scored for her country at the FIBA U16 Women’s Asia Championship 2017 in Bengaluru, with a near tournament double-double of 14.8 points and 9 boards per game. That in itself is enough to suggest that if Thailand want to meet their ambitions of being competitive and collecting their first ever victory in this competition (having went 0-5 in their only previous appearance back in 2009) then she will be the one to deliver it. Not least because not all the players have been able to compete in FIBA youth tournaments previously, with the team not participating last year at the FIBA U18 Asian Women’s Championship.
Miela Goodchild – Australia
There will be a big case for Goodchild to be the main leader for the Gems in the Thai capital and especially after having averaged a double-digit scoring return during her Freshman NCAA season with Duke. She knows what it takes to finish as the champion of a global event, having been part of the gold-medal winning Sapphires side at the FIBA U17 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Zaragoza during 2016. Since then, she has grown in influence and was the team’s leading scorer at U18 Asia last year with almost 18 points per game.