Kentucky prep star Leah Macy focusing on helping USA Basketball ‘keep being the standard’

USA Basketball has a beloved tradition.

Each summer, when athletes make the roster and receive their official Team USA jerseys, they also receive a card with a list of notable Team USA alumnae who’ve worn that number. This week, with the team at the 2024 FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup in Bucaramanga, Colombia, Bethlehem High School leading scorer Leah Macy joins some elite company.

Macy, No. 10 on the roster, shares the jersey number with players including Vicky Bullett, Tamika Catchings, Nancy Lieberman and Breanna Stewart.

“It’s a really small circle, and so, to be able to be a part of it is a huge honor and a really big deal,” Macy told the Herald-Leader. “We made the team back in May, but it really didn’t hit me until we got here and we started training and doing everything … it’s a really big deal to wear the number that you’re wearing, USA being across your chest.”

The tradition ties back to a notion with which Macy herself has been familiar for years — if one wants to be the best, and play alongside the best, the standard is extraordinarily high.

“They always use the word ‘standard’ when they talk about anything,” Macy said. “When teams play (the United States), they say that’s like their Super Bowl because they want to beat us, and they want to get to where we are. So we just have to go in, take care of business and just keep being the standard.”

Currently rated as the No. 12 overall prospect (and the second-ranked forward) in the class of 2025, Macy makes her debut with USA Basketball this summer after an invitation to the 2022 USA Women’s U17 National Team trials and participating in the 2023 USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team minicamp in Dallas. Coached by Indiana women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren, the roster also features Macy’s fellow in-state star ZaKiyah Johnson, a three-time KHSAA state champion with Sacred Heart Academy and the No. 7-ranked recruit in the class of 2025, as well as elite 2024 prospects Sarah Strong (UConn) and Joyce Edwards (South Carolina) and 2025 stars Sienna Betts and Jazzy Davidson, among others.

The United States truly is the standard for U18 Women’s Basketball, winning the last 10 gold medals and seeming poised to continue the impressive streak. The team rolled through the group stage, defeating Brazil, Puerto Rico and Mexico by a combined margin of 221 points. In Friday’s quarterfinals, the Americans defeated the Dominican Republic 125-27, with a week-best performance from Macy of 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in just over 14 minutes on the floor. With its semifinals ticket punched, the USA qualifies for the 2025 FIBA U19 Women’s World Cup in the Czech Republic.

Macy compared practicing and playing with her U18 teammates to the college level, where everybody earned their spot because of their high skill level and talent.

“Because, when you get to college, everybody around you has probably come from somewhere where they’re the first option on the team,” Macy explained, “but that changes when you go to teams like this and when you go to college. So this experience really allows a lot of us to figure out different roles, which I think will really help me in the long run of things.”

Macy might still have a senior season with Bethlehem before she begins her college career, but she’s getting a rare preview through this stint with Team USA. On May 6, she announced her commitment to Notre Dame, choosing the Fighting Irish over UConn, Kentucky and Louisville. Notre Dame head coach Niele Ivey is an assistant coach for the U18 team this summer.

“Coach Ivey is just amazing,” Macy said. “Being able to work with her on the court in this setting, even before I get to Notre Dame in about a year from now is really cool, and something that, when we win this gold medal, that’s just an experience with your head coach that (you’re) gonna go play for … it’s just something that, obviously, most people don’t get to experience.”

The USA will next face Argentina in the tournament semifinals Saturday at 6:40 p.m. ET, available to watch at YouTube.com/FIBA. The winner will advance to Sunday’s championship against Canada or Brazil.

“It’s been just an amazing experience that I’m gonna remember for the rest of my life,” Macy said. “Especially if we win this gold medal. This group of girls that I’m with and coaches, it’s just an amazing group and we all really enjoy playing with each other.”

Bethlehem star and Notre Dame commit Leah Macy, right, with future head coach and 2024 U18 women’s assistant coach Niele Ivey.
Bethlehem star and Notre Dame commit Leah Macy, right, with future head coach and 2024 U18 women’s assistant coach Niele Ivey.

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