Oak Bay basketball star Yearwood to play for B.C. against Japanese team

Fresh off a week-long national cadet and junior training camp in Edmonton, Lauren Yearwood will have little time to put her feet up.

The Grade 11 student at Oak Bay Secondary will be part of a B.C. Selects basketball team — formed by former national team coach Allison McNeil — which will face the touring Japanese under-18 squad in three international exhibition games on the Mainland.

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Yearwood, who turns 17 in under two weeks time, was named to the club which opens play tonight at the Langley Events Centre. Game 2 will go at the same location on Thursday before it moves to War Memorial Gym at UBC on Saturday. All games start at 7 p.m.

“I’m excited for these games,” Yearwood said of the opportunity. “Last year I got a chance to play in the FIBA Americas [tournament] against teams from South America and the U.S., but this will be my first chance to play against a team from overseas.

“I hope to see some playing time and get some experience in the three games. I’m not sure how much time with the older girls in the lineup.”

Yearwood, who helped lead the Oak Bay Breakers to second place at provincials, is one of a handful of 1997-born players on the Selects team. The remainder are post-secondary players from across B.C.

She was named a first-team all-star at the triple-A high school championship and the six-foot-three post player has lofty goals.

“The ultimate goal for me would probably be to play on the senior women’s national team,” she said. “That’s always been my biggest dream and hopefully, one day, play at the Olympics.”

Yearwood was a member of the national cadet team last season and will attend a final tryout camp this summer to qualify for this year’s team, which will travel to Slovakia for worlds in July.

“I was really happy with the year,” said Yearwood. “Our high school team did well; leading off of that, coming here [to the Edmonton camp] and now I’m excited about the summer.”

She’s beginning to look into universities and has already received interest from several U.S. schools.

“I’m hoping to have my decision by the time I’m in my Grade 12 year. I’m mainly looking to play Division I basketball in the States. Hopefully, I’ll be taking some official visits soon,” said Yearwood, who also has a close relationship with UVic Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair.

Yearwood, who was approached by McNeil to be a part of the B.C. Selects team, will be joined on the mainland by UVic Vikes assistant coach Leanne Evans, who will be one of several coaching apprentices working with McNeil. UVic athlete Jessica Renfrew was also to be part of the team, but is recovering from injury.

mannicchiarico@timescolonist.com

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