The moment begins to feel more real for Laeticia Amihere.

The Mississauga, Ontario native recently completed her final season with the NCAA powerhouse South Carolina Gamecocks and entered her name Tuesday for the upcoming WNBA draft.

“I think I realized it when I started packing up my room,” he told The Canadian Press. “And I remember just looking at how empty my walls were and I don’t remember seeing my room like this since the first year since I first moved in.

“It’s just emotions all over the place, just trying to prepare myself for the next level, but also immersing myself in every moment that I have here with my teammates and my friends and everyone that I feel the relationship with. in the last four years.”

The 6-foot-4 forward says she has been invited to New York for Monday’s draft and plans to attend with her parents, Georgette and Anthony, and brother Benson.

“…I will be excited and looking forward to hearing my name,” she said. “There is going to be a lot of anticipation.”

The opportunity to develop her potential and show more of her game excites her as well.

“I think showing a little more of my bag… I haven’t been able to show more of my offensive tools in South Carolina,” he said. “So I’m excited to show a little more of that, just, you know, my midrange game and being able to score on three levels.”

Amihere is averaging a career-high 7.1 points along with 3.4 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 15.9 minutes in 36 games this season. He came off the bench for a stacked South Carolina team that won the national title in 2022 and lost in the Final Four this year.

Although his numbers are not obvious, Amihere’s impact goes beyond just box scoring.

“Some people we’ve talked to or listened to, I think there’s a chance she’s going to drop late in the first round,” Canadian women’s national team assistant coach Steve Baur told The Canadian Press. “I think there is some enthusiasm and genuine interest (from her) in the league.

“The two athletic tools that he has to offer right now, but also the potential for his growth once he gets into the league.”

Baur also touched on the 21-year-old’s performance for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics.

“She changed some of the games for us with her ability to impact the whole way we played defense,” Baur said. “We found ourselves in a hole a couple of times at the Olympics and Laeticia would either lead a great comeback or run for us to get us back into these games.

“So that was, I think, a great confidence builder for her and the role for us at Olympic levels. You come in, still a teenage college student at that stage, and you can impact things internationally.”

Amihere has long been part of the national program. He played for the U-16 team that won gold at the 2015 FIBA ​​Americas Cup, competed with the U-17 team at the 2016 FIBA ​​World Cup and the bronze medal-winning Canada U-19 team at the FIBA ​​Americas Cup. FIBA World Cup 2017.

With the senior team, she competed in the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament, the 2021 FIBA ​​AmeriCup, and the 2022 FIBA ​​World Cup. Being surrounded by other professionals helped her develop professional habits years before she declared for the WNBA draft.

“You’re young, and you’re kind of used to, you know, going into practice and saying, ‘Okay, I’ve got young legs, I don’t really need to warm up, we’re going 5 on 5.’ ‘, but you learn professional habits, ”he said.

“Obviously, longevity is something that is more important than your ability, because if you can’t play for a long time, you’re not serving your team well. So…getting there early, watching movies, nutrition, all those different things, I feel like I was able to learn at a very young age and that’s something I’ve carried with me that will definitely translate to the professional level as well. ”

In addition to her leadership skills, versatility, defensive prowess and ability to create for others on offense, it is her winning mentality that she would most like to bring to any team that selects her.

“We were in a winning environment,” Amihere said of his time in South Carolina. “We had the best coach (Dawn Staley), she was very competitive. We had all my teammates, (who) just their desire to win was so high and no matter where they select me, I’ll take it with me because it’s so rare.

“Obviously in the WNBA, you don’t have teams that go undefeated, you don’t have teams that only lose nine games in four years, so it’s going to be a different approach for me to come into a team that, you know, isn’t used to not losing.”

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 7, 2023.

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