Napheesa Collier is no stranger to stepping into a dynasty and making a positive impact.
She stepped on the UConn campus in 2015, and helped the Huskies win their 11th NCAA championship as a freshman. By the time Collier graduated, she was top 10 in career points, rebounds, and blocks in the collegiate powerhouse’s record book.
At a time when many thought the Minnesota Lynx were “rebuilding,” Collier was drafted No. 6 overall. She wasted no time as a rookie, scoring 27 points in her debut, eventually being named a WNBA All-Star, and 2019 Rookie of the Year. Collier is a winner, and she’s backed that up by leading the Lynx to the playoffs in each of her first two seasons.
Now, as the youngest player on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team roster, the 24-year-old Collier has her focus set on helping the United States secure a seventh consecutive gold medal in Tokyo this summer.
“It’s a great honor to be a part of something that’s been winning for so many years,” Collier told media on Tuesday. “You don’t wanna let that down.”
The UConn product is one of six first-time Olympians on the USA roster. She is hopeful to carry on the tradition in Tokyo and beyond, in whatever way she can.
“Especially because I’m a new person on the team, I wanna be able to come in and contribute in a way that the team needs, whatever that may be,” Collier explained. “Just be a sponge and learn from all the people on the team who have been here before (gestures toward Lynx and USA teammate Sylvia Fowles).”
Of course, there’s pressure that comes with stepping into the world’s elite. But with her experience at UConn and with the Lynx, Collier has been there before.
“It is a lot of pressure,” Collier said.
“But I always say I like the pressure because it makes us perform our best.”