Currently the youngest player on the Canadian Senior Women’s National Basketball team, Kia Nurse was the most sought after Canadian high school recruit, until she officially signed with the UCONN Huskies on Nov. 19, 2013.
This may sound a little premature, but it would be fair to say that Kia Nurse represents the future of Canadian women’s basketball, when you take into account her pedigree.
The 6’0 combo guard was recruited by a some big NCAA D1 programs in the USA, considering the Indiana Hoosiers and the Penn State Lions, but there was only one school that stood on top of the rest.
This legendary university has much to offer, including a rich history of 11 NCAA Championship titles (8 of them in Women’s basketball) thanks to Huskies Head Coach Geno Auriemma, who’s lead them to all 8 titles, and has been awarded with six NCAA coach of the year awards.
UCONN is arguably the best NCAA women’s program in basketball history, unless of course you’re a Tenneesse fan (tied with UCONN for most national championships at 8).
In communicating with Huskies Assisstant coach Shea Ralph, she says, “The two things that Coach Auriemma tells us we have to have in recruits is ultra-confidence and ultra-competitiveness,” two traits that Nurse undoubtedly possesses.
“Aside from that, the things we look for are things that we can’t coach; being good teammates, being coachable, having a good work ethic and a high basketball IQ.”
The Huskies were lucky in sealing the deal with the Canadian phenom.
“We found out about Kia late. The way we found out was in an AAU tournament in Washington D.C. and she wasn’t even supposed to be playing because she was supposed to be playing with the Canadian National Team,” Ralph told NPH. “We were really pretty lucky because we got involved later in the process.”
Coach Shea recalled a time that the legendary Auriemma had watched Kia play and texted Ralph saying ‘she’s perfect’. With everything on her current basketball resume, what wouldn’t make Kia the perfect player?
In the class room, Nurse is an 85% student, showing that she knows how to balance her school work and the responsibilities of being an athlete.
On the court, Nurse closed the chapter on her high school career with 31 points, while leading St. Thomas More high school to their third consecutive OFSAA Championship.
In the JUEL of Ontario league, she averages 25 PPG, 10 RPG, 6 APG, and 45% from 3PT, while playing on Team Canada she averages double-digit scoring performances every game.
It’s obvious that this female basketball phenom has God-given talents that any basketball player would die to have – a smooth stroke, strong finish, smothering defense, killer instinct, and strong level of athleticism.
Nurse has been under everyone’s radar, including Senior National Head Coach Lisa Thomaidis.
“I’ve known Kia her entire life and had been following her development quite closely, especially in the last few years as she climbed up the ranks of the Cadet and Junior National Teams.”
Named the new SWNT Head Coach this past 2012-2013 [international] season, Coach Thomaidis says, “There is much for [Kia] to do to be deemed one of the best female Canadian basketball players of all time.”
“Kia possesses an impressive combination of athletic ability (speed, agility, strength), basketball skill (her on-ball defense, shooting ability and ball-handling skills), and what we call the “intangibles” (her toughness, anticipation skills, confidence, work ethic, etc). This combination is what sets Kia apart,” explained Thomaidis.
A lot of the better crop of players in Canada are highly recruited by NCAA schools, and not very many stay here. Coach Thomaidis, though probably wishing she could have Kia on her CIS team, says the Hamilton hero will continue to flourish in the NCAA and on the National Team as she matures and gains experience.
Thomaidis will have the chance to continue coaching Kia when the Womens National team gets together for the World Championships this fall. Along with Kia, the women’s program features a veteran squad with the likes of Alicia and Tamara Tatham and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa.
When asked about coaching two of Canada’s finest young female players (the other being Natalie Achonwa- NPH Diary Holder), here’s what the national team head coach had to say.
“Kia and Natalie really only played together for the short time this past summer, so developing chemistry between them, as well as the rest of our team will be very important as we head into the World Championships this fall.”
Thomaidis continued, ”They are both great players in their own right, and getting them comfortable with each other and how they play will be critical to our success. What legacy she will leave remains to be seen….but I’m excited to watch!”
Superstardom seems to run in the Nurse household.
As a Hamilton, Ontario native, Nurse has come from a line of professional athletes. Her uncle, Donovan McNabb, is a former quarterback in the NFL. Her brother Darrell was a first-round NHL draft pick in 2013, going 7th overall to the Edmonton Oilers.
There’s no telling what kind of pro career Kia could have after her time at UCONN. But one thing’s for sure – a bright future is ahead.
The future of Canadian women’s basketball.