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Nia Coffey relishes opportunity to represent United States at U-19 FIBA Women's World Championship

Northwestern incoming freshman Nia Coffey’s first stint with USA Basketball went as planned but that doesn’t mean the experience didn’t help prepare her for what she’ll undergo when she begins her collegiate basketball career this fall.

Her team breezed its way to the gold medal in the U-19 Women’s FIBA World Championship this summer in Lithuania.

Coffey, a McDonald’s All-American, was joined on the team by some of the best high school and collegiate players in the country. She said the intensity of the practices alone helped improve her game.

“Everyone on the team is absolutely amazing,” Coffey. “Our practices were always competitive because you’re playing for playing time and everyone always went their hardest and it made it that much harder. But it made us better as a whole.”

She was the first Wildcats women’s basketball player to represent the United States in a competition since Northwestern women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown took over the program five seasons ago.

Coffey is expected to play small forward for the Wildcats this coming season.

“The expectations [at the world championships] were very high,” Coffey said. “Our goal was to get the gold so practices were very hard. They were mentally and physically challenging but our coaches did a great job of helping us and coaching us. They didn’t overwork us but they really did a great job of getting us ready for competition.”