Xylina McDaniel Following Father's Footsteps in Basketball

Unlike her father, Xylina McDaniel, a 6-1 forward from Blythewood, S.C., has a full head of hair and a perfect pair of eyebrows to match. Just like her father, 12-year NBA veteran Xavier McDaniel, Xylina also excels on the basketball court.

As a sophomore in 2009-10, Xylina averaged 18.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 3.0 assists per game in helping Spring Valley High School to the South Carolina Class 4A championship game. In just her second varsity season, Xylina was named the Class 4A Player of the Year by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association and ESPN Rise listed her as a 2010 Underclass All-American. Even with her rapidly accumulating accolades and her early accomplishments, Xylina was humbled to be listed among the nation's best 17-and-unders.

"I was really surprised because I didn't think that I was really known like that nationally," she said prior to the USA's first trials session on Tuesday afternoon in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I knew I was known like that in South Carolina, but to be known like that nationally, I'm really proud of myself and the people who helped me get to where I am now."

Fierce on the court, she is soft spoken off the court. The 2009 state champion in the shot put, Xylina is an admitted class clown, but loves school. She also is looking forward to facing off against 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship MVP Elizabeth Williams, who won the match-up the one time the two met on the court.

USABasketball.com had a chance to sit down with the X-Girl on Tuesday prior to and just after her first on-court session in a USA Basketball jersey. In just 10 minutes, we became a fan of the young woman from South Carolina and we bet that you will, too.

Was there any hesitation about answering when you received your invitation from USA Basketball?
No. It was right away 'yes' because this is an opportunity that you can't go and turn down.

Is there anyone out here that you're looking forward to matching up against?
Elizabeth Williams, she plays for Boo Williams. I played against her once, and she ate me up.

She was on the 2009 USA U16 National Team and was named MVP of the FIBA Americas U16 National Team.
She's a really good player. I'm looking forward to playing against her again. I think it will push me to get better.

Who were the people who helped you get to where you are now?
My father, my high school coach and my AAU coach because he's been working with me since I was nine. He helped work on my skills and stuff.

Did you grow up with a basketball in your hand?
Yes. I've been playing basketball as long as I can remember.

Do you have any siblings?
Yes. I have a younger brother who is nine and an older sister who is 19.

Do they both play basketball?
My sister played in high school, but she quit when she went to college. My brother also plays.

Are they as good as you?
My brother's getting there, and I heard my sister was good. I never got to see her play because she lived in Alaska.

Did you get any pointers from your dad?
He told me I needed to drink a lot of water. I need to be in shape because the air is thinner here, and it would really bother me when I run. He told me to go at it hard and give it all I have.

How did you get into competing in the shot put?
I went out for track. I wanted to sprint, but they told me that if I wanted to sprint I had to throw, too. So I did that, and I ended up being good at it.

Are there any aspects of each sport that help with the other?
Power. Strength. Mental toughness. I do a lot of lifting in the weight room.

What do you like to do when you're not playing basketball?
Hang out with family and friends. I just like to relax.

Have you traveled overseas?
When I was younger we lived in Greece when my dad was playing basketball over there. I was one, so I don't remember a lot.

What kind of movies do you like to watch?
I like scary movies and comedies. I really like all the Scary Movies, and the Friday movies. Friday, Friday After Next, that kind of stuff.

What kind of books do you like to read?
I like teen books, the ones that are actually about how a teenager lives.

What kind of student are you in school?
I'm a silly student. I like to work with hands-on stuff, that's how I learn. I'm not bad. I'm not a trouble student. I get my work done, and my teachers love me.

What are your favorite classes?
Right now they're anatomy, physiology and algebra.

Do you know what you want to choose as a major in college?
No, but I know that I want to work with babies. I don't know what I want to do yet, but I know I want it to have something to do with babies.

Have you narrowed down your college choices or are you keeping your options open?
Not really. I'm keeping things open right now.

Were you able to watch any of the 2008 Olympic basketball games?
No, I was doing something with my AAU team.

What about the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver?
I watched a little bit, but I was so busy with volleyball and basketball, it was really hard to keep up.

So with volleyball you're a three-sport star?
Yeah, I tried it out. It was fun. I did well, but I'm not going to do it again this year because I need to condition for basketball. I might do cross-country for conditioning.

When you arrived here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, did it hit you that this was where Lisa Leslie, Dawn Staley and Candace Parker trained when they were your age?
I actually did think about that. I was like, 'wow! I'm really here.' It never really hit me that I actually was coming here to try out until I got here.

Now that you've gotten a practice under your belt, was your dad right? Was it hard to breathe at this altitude?
Yes, but my dad and my coaches kind of exaggerated a bit. I guess to make me want to get in shape, but it worked. It wasn't that bad, but I still could have done better with my conditioning.

Did you get to match up with Williams tonight?
I did, but it was only for one possession. It reminded me of back when I played against her, and it did push me to do better. When we get to scrimmage more, I'm looking forward to having another chance.

What was it like playing on the court for the first time in a USA Basketball jersey?
I was really excited, and it was really fun. The competition was really good. It's better than the competition that I'm used to,and it's pushing me to be better.

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