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UConn commit KK Arnold wins gold medal to end busy summer

On Sunday, UConn women’s basketball commit Kamorea “KK” Arnold won her second gold medal with Team USA in Hungary. On Thursday, she begins her senior year of high school back home in Wisconsin.

It’s been a whirlwind summer for Arnold. She’s played on some of the biggest stages within the past four months and is ready to begin her final year of her high school career before officially becoming a Husky next fall.

Arnold, currently ranked as the No. 7 overall recruit in the Class of 2023, helped Team USA win its sixth overall and fourth straight gold medal at the Under-18 3×3 FIBA World Cup in Hungary this weekend. Four other Huskies have also won gold with Team USA’s U18 3×3 team: current freshman Ayanna Patterson (won in 2021), Christyn Williams (2017), Megan Walker (2016) and Katie Lou Samuelson (2013).

“The gold medal presentation, that whole thing was surreal and just being there and having the opportunity to play 3×3 as well and being able to represent Wisconsin and my country as well at that level,” Arnold said Monday morning.

Team USA went undefeated in its seven games of the four-day tournament.

The U.S. advanced to the Sunday’s title game by first defeating the Netherlands, 21-15, on Saturday in the quarterfinals before winning its semifinal matchup against Spain, 21-13.

Team USA defeated Germany, 21-11, in the championship game for the gold medal.

“It’s been crazy,” Arnold said. “Just a lot going on. That was just a great feeling after we won that game and put the last point on the board. Everything just went up from there. It was just very exciting.”

Team USA also consisted of Sarah Strong, Sahara Williams (committed to Oklahoma) and Mikaylah Williams (the No. 1 prospect in the 2023 Class and committed to LSU). Mikaylah Williams was named the tournament’s MVP Sunday after leading the tournament with 8.4 points per game. Arnold finished tied for eighth overall with 4.4 points per game.

Arnold said the team celebrated its gold-medal victory Sunday by dancing — a common hobby for the 5-foot-9 point guard.

“That’s our specialty,” she said. “I just love dancing. We put up a mosh pit and everybody got in the middle and started dancing and we all just danced the whole night away.”

While this was the second gold medal was Arnold — who helped Team USA win the 2021 FIBA Americans U16 Championship — it was her first time playing 3×3 basketball.

“I liked it a lot,” she said. “Especially the type of player that I am, all that space on the floor, is just my sweet spot. I just love attacking the basket from there and everything around it.”

Unlike the traditional 5×5 game, 3×3 basketball is played on half a court. Arnold said having a smaller court helped her become a quicker defender and a more creative playmaker since the lack of space makes the offense-to-defense transition that much faster compared to 5×5.

“Like right as soon as you score you have to go on defense right away,” she said. “I definitely had to get used to that during trials because I would score and then sit there and be looking but after I got used to that it was pretty normal for me.”

The Germantown High School senior point guard had a non-stop summer — from competing at Overtime’s women’s basketball showcase in Atlanta in May and working with future UConn teammate Paige Bueckers, to impressing the nation’s best college coaches in Chicago in July at Nike Nationals and traveling to Hungary in August to help lead Team USA to gold.

Arnold said through all her experiences this summer she’s learned to become a better shooter and recognize when to make her own shot instead of always looking for a teammate.

“I wasn’t a confident shooter but my AAU program, Iowa Attack with coach Dickson (Jensen), he really pushed me to get out of my comfort zone with shooting,” she said. “Like my go-to thing was just attacking the basket really hard and being crafty and being a playmaker for my other teammates and now being able to shoot the ball just opens up so many things on the floor for me and my teammates.”

At Overtime, Bueckers sat with Arnold and went over the future Husky’s highlight video. Arnold said Bueckers taught her how to elevate her signature crossover move one step further by adding a between-the-legs dribble to keep the defender at bay for longer. She’s been practicing incorporating the new move this summer.

Arnold is poised to become Buecker’s replacement in Storrs in a few short years.

“It was really good catching up with her and just having laughs with her and her being at the event, watching me play a little bit, so it was definitely fun,” Arnold said.

As for this upcoming season, Arnold is focused on doing what she can to elevate her game and bring a championship to Germantown.

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