Ruth Hamblin Earns Spot On Canadian Junior National Team
Aug. 1, 2012
TORONTO, Ontario - Oregon State women's basketball incoming freshman Ruth Hamblin became one of the select few to have the honor of representing her country in international action when she was named to the 2012 Canadian Junior National Team on Wednesday morning.
The center from Houston, British Columbia was one of a group of players invited to participate in tryouts for Team Canada, which took place July 27-29 at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. At the end of the four days, 12 women were selected to the squad that will compete in the FIBA Americas U18 Championships from Aug. 15-19 in Guarbo, Puerto Rico. The group will remain in Ontario for a nine-day training camp before traveling to the Caribbean for exhibition contests in advance of tournament action.
"It is definitely a huge honor," Hamblin said of representing Canada. "It's something I never could have imagined. It's really beyond my wildest dreams."
The Canadian team, looking to medal in this event for the fifth consecutive time, will face tough competition in the preliminary round as they have been assigned to Group B, which includes: Brazil, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The top two teams from each group will go on to the semifinals. Canada will need a top-four finish in order to qualify for next year's FIBA U19 World Championships in Lithuania.
Hamblin had already distinguished herself as one of the top young players in Canada. In late March she competed in a National Age Group Assessment Camp. Forty-five players were invited, with only 16 making the cut for the Junior National Team tryouts this past weekend.
"It was a `stretching' experience," she said of her first taste of international action. "You have to really adapt because it's a bigger game than you have ever seen before. It was a hard camp, but there were a lot of rewards from it too and I really felt myself growing, especially by the third day. I was able to see the improvement."
Hamblin is one of the few Canadian players talented enough to earn an NCAA Division I scholarship. Five others who participated in the tryouts will be plying their trades next season for schools such as Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and American.
"I think any experience where you are competing against the best, and especially the best in the world, can't do anything but help and push her toward a higher level," Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said of his freshman center. "I think it's an incredible opportunity for her coming in; that she's going to get to bring that experience here to Oregon State. I also think that any extra repetitions help and that's going to give her a great opportunity this summer to continue to play. One of the questions when she was looking at us was, `Would you allow me to play should I make the team?' and without hesitation the answer was `Yes'. What an incredible honor to represent your country wherever it is. We are really happy for her, proud of her and excited about Ruth in general and what she brings to our program."
At 6-foot-6, Hamblin is the tallest and most intimidating post player on her squad. Canada's 2011 Junior Women's National Team only featured five players above 6-0, with the tallest topping out at 6-3, and Hamblin has at least two inches on any other player on this year's roster. In the fall, she will also be a welcome addition to an Oregon State interior defense that is already one of the most formidable in the conference.
Alongside 6-7 senior Thais Pinto, the Beavers will feature the two tallest players in the Pac-12 next season. In Rueck's first two years at the helm, OSU has boasted a pair of the best shot blockers in league history. In 2009-10, El Sara Greer moved into the top-five in single-season conference history when she swatted 92 shots. A year ago, rising senior Patricia Bright denied 115 attempts, just four shy of the Pac-12 record.
"In the Pac-12 size is vital," Rueck said. "You have to be able to compete at the center spot and we were really blessed a year ago to add Patricia and Thais. Ruth is coming in at a perfect time to learn from their experience, learn from them as individuals and watch them work each day. It's great to have that vision so she knows where she is going with her game. I'm excited about Ruth because not only does she have the size and ability, but she is an outstanding student, extremely bright and is just a sponge for knowledge. She has a hunger in her. She wants to be great, wants to do everything she can with her abilities and is extremely motivated."
Oregon State finished last season with a 20-13 overall record and a 9-9 mark in Pac-12 play. The Beavers, who advanced to the Sweet 16 of the WNIT, made their deepest postseason run since 2004 and reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth time in school history and only the second time in the last 17 seasons. The 11-game improvement in the win column from Rueck's first year (2010-11; 9-21) is the greatest single-year leap in that category since Oregon State's 1990-91 squad went 17-11 after winning just five games the previous season.
OSU is in good shape to maintain its steady progress in 2012-13. The team returns more than 75 percent of both its scoring and rebounding from a season ago and also welcomes in one of the nation's top recruiting classes, ranked as high as 17th in the country according to ESPN HoopGurlz.
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