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Kia Nurse (CAN) - 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women
CAN - Ahead of schedule

TORONTO (FIBA Americas Championship for Women/FIBA World Championship for Women) - Nothing whets the appetite for international basketball like a youngster who is ahead of schedule and making it to the senior team.

The buzz in Canada is that the national team, one year removed from reaching the Quarter-Finals of the Olympics, have a 17-year-old who could play for the senior team at the FIBA Americas Championship for Women in Mexico next month (21-28 September).

The budding star, who has shined for the youth teams the past couple of summers, is Kia Nurse.

She has been so impressive in Canada's workouts this summer that Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis has called her the "real deal" and the timing couldn't be any better.

Canada are looking to fill a spot left vacant by the retirement of two-time Olympian Teresa Gabriel, whose last run with the side came at the London Games.

Nurse hasn't just been showing her potential in training, but in games too.

She went on the national team tour to China earlier this summer.

"For her, having the confidence playing at this level and the team having the confidence in her running the show is just huge," said Thomaidis.

"She has every single intangible you would need and want in a point guard. It's one thing to be 17 but it's another thing to have the compete level, the capacity for training, the love for the game. She's very humble, fearless, all those things you want in a player. She brings them all at this age."

Nurse is a name that has entered the Canadian sports world before.

Kia's father, Richard, played in the Canadian Football League (CFL) for the Hamilton Ticats while her mother, Kathy, was a hoopster at McMaster.

Of late, the Nurse name has been in the headlines because of Kia's 18-year-old brother, Darnell, a hockey player just drafted by the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.

Kia also has a sister, 26-year-old Tamika, who played basketball at the University of Oregon.

She even has a connection to big-time sports in America because her uncle is Donovan McNabb, the former NFL quarterback who spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nurse showed herself to be a promising talent for Canada the previous two summers while playing at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women and 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women.

That fact that she has gone from being on the radar to a player who is likely to make the squad and play big minutes for Canada next month in Xalapa when the country tries to qualify for the FIBA World Championship for Women has come as a surprise to everyone, including Nurse.

"I was invited to the first tryout just to gain experience and see where people were and then they asked me to keep staying," she said.

"I was like, 'Ah, OK.' It was really a good experience for me to keep staying.

"I think I'm really happy with myself for adapting as fast as they think I am; I don't really see it as much as they do but obviously it's good."


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