OKBET SPORTS - When you're teaming up with big names like Brana Stewart, Kelsey Plum and Aja Wilson, it's easy to get your name lost in the confusion. However, Shakira Austin was quick to ensure fans became more familiar with her name in her second match at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.
The 1.96M (6'5") center is the youngest player on the team and is only a few months removed from playing college basketball at Ole Miss. She is a rookie in many ways, whether it was playing at the professional level last season or playing with Team USA for the first time or playing in her first ever Women's World Cup.
Being put in that situation might be overwhelming for some but so far, Austin has done well to stay composed.
In just her second game at the Women's World Cup against Puerto Rico, Austin recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots to stand out as one of the top performers of the second gameday. She did effectively as well, shooting 50 percent from the field and going 7-9 from the free-throw line.
"She has such great length, she's great in the paint," said Team USA head coach Cheryl Reeve.
This was a perfect display of Austin's strengths in a game. The native of Virginia brings a lot to the table for Team USA and should continue to expand parts of the game where she can do well even more if she continues to emulate her idol.
"I think Candace Parker was pretty much the player I looked up to on the women's side the most," Austin had said in an interview with Northern Virginia. "Just with her versatility, the energy that she brings on the court, nobody can stop her. That's something that I always mirrored. Even on the men's side, Anthony Davis - just versatile players who can do anything they want on the floor. That's what I hope to be."
Versatile players tend to get double-doubles and that's what Austin did, so it seems like she's on track to becoming the player she hopes to become. As a matter of fact, it was the first double-double by a Team USA player at the Women's World Cup in 8 years with the last one recorded by Nnemkadi Ogwumike in 2014.
"This was a fun game for her," said Reeve said of her standout rookie. "She got a lot of minutes and found her way productivity-wise."
With Austin being younger and less "proven" than the others in the team, it might have been easy to question her selection to join Team USA for this Women's World Cup, but this performance (and her coach) confirms her being worthy of the roster spot.
"She's been playing well, and that's why she made the national team," Reeve said." That's why she got the opportunity to play in the Women's World Cup. She made the most of that opportunity, and today, she made the most of her time."
"She's a player who's still learning, but she's learning on the fly and she's playing hard. She's athletic, long, and relentless, and all of that leads to good results."
With a big third game against China on the horizon, can Austin keep it up? Will she continue to see big games and deliver on the court as the U.S. aims to stay undefeated with extra firepower? Can she become the second Team USA player since Lisa Leslie in 2002 to earn back-to-back double-doubles at the Women's World Cup?
It's too soon to know for sure, but as coach Reeve said, we can be sure that Shakira Austin will leave no stone unturned - usually to the benefit of herself and the team.