First-year Janelle Bailey has been widely regarded for her abilities on the basketball court.
Bailey, a former McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit, has already imprinted a significant impact on the North Carolina women’s basketball team.
Before the Tar Heels’ home game against Furman on Sunday afternoon, Bailey’s abilities were recognized once again. The 6-foot-4 first-year forward was presented as the 2017 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, an honor given to many current and retired WNBA All Stars, such as Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Tina Charles and Lisa Leslie. Bailey adds to a long list of women’s basketball legends that have spanned since the trophy’s inception in 1980.
“USA Basketball has meant a lot to me," Bailey said, "and to be on that list with those players truly means a lot."
Due to Bailey’s award ceremony prior to the game, head coach Sylvia Hatchell wore her USA Basketball pin and gold medal ring for the occasion, which she received while serving as an assistant coach for the national team back in 1986 and 1988.
“I did all of this today in honor of Janelle and USA Basketball,” Hatchell said. “It’s really a great honor for her.”
Bailey, a native of Matthews, N.C., was an integral component for the United States in its run towards a gold medal at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup in China earlier this summer.
She was also an instrumental member of the 2017 USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team that competed in Spain, where she averaged 9.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game for a group that would end up finishing with a 6-1 record, earning the bronze medal at the event. Bailey credits the time that she spent with USA Basketball as a major piece for her development as a player.
“(USA Basketball) has helped grow my game a lot,” Bailey said. “I definitely credit them for helping develop my fundamentals and basketball IQ, so this award means so much to me.”