Alyssa Jerome will have a unique basketball background as a freshman at Stanford. The Canadian will join head coach Tara VanDerveer’s women’s basketball team with extensive junior team and now senior national team experience for her country.
Jerome was able to play with Canada’s senior team for a five game exhibition series that started May 26 in Spain. The final game was June 2 in Bordeaux, France. The exhibition games were considered the first step for the national team going forward to the 2020 Olympics.
Jerome will start practicing with the U19 in July for a trip to Italy for the women’s basketball world cup from July 22-30. After that she may return to the senior national team in August. All of this traveling means no summer school at Stanford.
“But playing for Canada is not too bad, either,” she deadpanned. “So I guess I’ll have to wait until September.”
Jerome participated in a five-day tryout in Edmonton to make the senior team and was one of only two high school players (2019 Laeticia Amihere) to make the final roster.
“I wasn’t expecting too much,” Jerome said of the tryout. “I was happy to be invited. Then I got to compete and it was great to play with those girls who I’ve cheered and watched in the Olympics and other competitions. It was great to finally get on the court with them.
“That whole experience was really incredible. The training was great and playing obviously was really nerve wracking, but my teammates and coaches were all so supportive and helped me through that.”
Stanford’s staff hasn’t been able to watch Jerome since she signed with the Cardinal, but associate head coach Kate Paye said they’ve heard good things and obviously it’s a positive sign that Jerome made the national team.
Jerome got some minutes in each of the five games, but more important than those limited minutes were the practices with professional and college players.
“We’re really excited for the experiences that Alyssa is getting this summer,” Paye said. “It’s invaluable to play at that elite level.
“She is a skilled offensive player and is very versatile. She can play facing the basket with her perimeter shot, she can post up in the paint and is a good rebounder with long arms.”
Developing strength has been a major focus for Jerome and she felt her progress showed in practice and games with the senior team. She didn’t get pushed around and was able to box out professional players.
Jerome -- who is 6-foot-1 -- often played guard for Canada and she faced a lot of situations when she had to read the defense on ball screens and make correct decisions. It was a physically and mentally demanding atmosphere that she knows is similar to what she should expect from VanDerveer.
“I learned so much,” Jerome said. “The practice environment … every drill was competitive. It was a big step up in the physicality, the speed and the shooting was definitely a step up from what I’m used to. And all the details that when … you play with the younger teams they’re not as focused on as much. But every little detail mattered. I learned a lot in all aspects of the game. It was frustrating at times when girls knew what to do and I didn’t, but I was able to figure it out.
“The coaches expect a lot and they tell you how it is and they want you to do what they tell you to do. I think learning from that style of coaching -- which is definitely super similar to Tara’s -- is good for once I get to Stanford and play for her.”
Jerome will be able to join the Stanford team for their September trip to Italy -- Jerome joked she may try to find a way to stay in Italy after the Fiba U19 ends July 30 -- and is looking forward to joining her Cardinal teammates.
“It still seems like it’s far away,” she said. “I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to think about it. I’m so excited and … I’ve been filling out a ton of forms to Stanford and that makes it feel real.”