Caroline Lau had a basketball experience unlike any other high school player in Connecticut this summer.
Lau, a rising sophomore at St. Luke’s, was selected to try out for the 2019 U16 National Women’s Basketball team in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Lau was one of the players from across the country selected by the USA Basketball Developmental National Team Committee for the initial tryout process and the only player from Connecticut invited for the U16 team.
In late May, Lau made the first cut to the final 68 players but missed the cut down to 42.
She was the only player from New England to make the final 68.
“I thought I could get through the first round OK, but in the second round, everyone was very good,” Lau said. “It was crazy to see the level of play by everyone who was in that second round of players. There are some great players this age across the country.”
Twelve players were chosen for the final roster to participate in the International Basketball Association (FIBA) tournament in Puerto Aysen, Chile from June 16-22.
The USA U16 team dominated the tournament, winning it all by beating Canada 87-37 in the gold-medal game.
Returning home after the tryouts, Lau went straight to the gym.
“Playing against the best players showed me a few things I needed to work on. Most of all, my strength and my defense,” Lau said. “The level of competition was similar to what I played against in Boo Williams (AAU) except those players are older, bigger, stronger, and faster. I left the tryouts feeling confident I could play, but also knowing I have a lot of work to do. I came right home and started working on those things.”
Lau is a tireless worker, driven by the desire to always improve.
“She is good enough right now that she could do nothing and still be great, but that’s not her,” St. Luke’s coach Matt Ward said. “She’s always looking for ways to improve her game. When she has a free period in school, she’s in the gym working on something. She is dedicated to constantly getting better. She doesn’t stop.”
Ward understands how unique Lau’s opportunity in Colorado Springs was and how it will help shape her in the coming years.
“The experience trying out for the national team is going to help her so much,” he said. “Getting to go against the best in the country showed her where she stands with the best and where she needs to improve to raise her game to even higher levels.”
Lau has been playing varsity for St. Luke’s since she was in seventh grade and was one of the best players in the FAA this past season as a freshman.
The trials gave Lau a chance to shine in front of a plethora of top college coaches.
Lau has been contacted by several top-flight schools already, including UConn. Lau said she is looking for a school rich in basketball tradition and with high academic standards.
This summer, Lau is playing with the AAU team Exodus out of New York, but even when she is not with Exodus, she is somewhere with a ball and a hoop.
On the court, she is a point guard with a scorer’s mentality, but also a precision passer. She can knock down 3-pointers and create off the dribble
“She can do anything on the court,” Ward said. “She is a point guard but she can really play anywhere. She can score 30 or score four and have the same impact on the game. Her basketball IQ is so high and she understands the game so well.”
Lau said she hopes to get invited back next summer to try out for the U17 National Team.
For now, if you are looking for her, she will be in the gym.