Camas High School’s new basketball star tested her skills this spring against some of the top high school basketball players in the nation.
Rising sophomore Brooklynn Haywood participated in the 2023 USA Women’s U16 National Team trials, held May 25-30, at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“It was great,” Haywood said. “The coaches did a really great job of explaining things and teaching us things. And meeting the girls was really fun. I made friends there. We’re going to keep in touch, and we’re going to follow each other through basketball.”
Haywood and 54 other players from around the United States representing the high school graduating classes of 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 were invited to the trials by the USA Basketball women’s developmental national team committee earlier this year.
“We are excited to have such a talented group set to compete for roster spots on the 2023 Women’s U16 national team,” committee chairwoman Kirsten Moore said before trials. “For many of these athletes, this will be their first time participating in USA Basketball trials, and we are excited to see who rises to that challenge.”
Haywood wasn’t selected for the squad, which is competing in the FIBA U16 Women’s Americas Championship, held from Tuesday, June 13, to Monday, June 19 in Mérida, Mexico, but felt as though she “held her own” during the trials.
Haywood, a 5-foot-9 point guard, also learned some lessons that she can apply to the rest of her basketball career, which she hopes includes another tryout for a national squad.
“I learned that the girls that were there are really good basketball players, and I have to keep working and keep getting better,” she said. “I have heard about these girls, and I’ve seen them play sometimes, but playing against them is so much different. I did well, but I just need to keep getting better. I’m going to stay in the gym and keep pushing myself.”
Haywood exploded onto the Washington state prep basketball scene as a freshman during the 2022-23 campaign, averaging a Clark County-best 26 points per game for Union High School. After the season, she announced her intentions to transfer to Camas High and join a Papermakers squad that came within a few points of winning a state championship last season.
“I think the atmosphere is going to be great,” Haywood said. “There are some great basketball players on my team that I will be playing with and practicing against, and I’m going to get better this season (by) getting to play against these girls in practice. We’re going to be playing some really good competition during the high school season, so it’s just going to be super fun to get better and grow as a team.”
Camas went 23-3 and advanced to the 4A Hardwood Classic state tournament championship contest, where it lost to Eastlake (Sammamish) High School, during the 2022-23 season.
Haywood’s new teammates include Addison Harris, who was named as The Columbian’s all-region girls basketball player of the year after averaging 17.2 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 53 percent from the floor, and all-region selection Riley Sanz (10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds).
“I’m so excited,” said Haywoood, who was recently ranked as the best girls basketball player in Washington state by the Prep Girls Hoops website. “I’ve known these (Camas) girls for a long time. When I first got here, I was working out with them and training with them. I’m just excited to reconnect with them and play with them again. I’ve loved watching them because they have such great players on their team and they play together. It’s not like one person has to do everything or they’re being selfish, because they know everyone can score. They know everyone’s good enough to be able to score, and they play together, and that’s why they win so many games.”
That’s why Haywood is not really concerned about her personal statistics, even though she has dreams of signing with a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I school and playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) one day.
“All I care about is winning games. That’s all I (want to) do,” she said. “I don’t care who scores the most points or who played the best or who did this or that. I just want to win, and win as a team and win together, and play together the entire time. I’m going to play their style of basketball because it’s working. I’m not worried about how many shots I’ll be getting because I know that when I’m open, (my teammates are) going to find me.”