Home News Stanford’s Cameron Brink soaking in Sweet 16 Oregon homecoming

Stanford’s Cameron Brink soaking in Sweet 16 Oregon homecoming

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Cameron Brink realizes this weekend could be the last time she plays in her hometown.

“Honestly, I’m at peace with it,” the Stanford post said Thursday in an NCAA Women’s Tournament press conference at the Moda Center in Portland. “To play my last potential game in front of family in Portland at home is bittersweet, but it’s really wonderful.”

Brink and the No. 2 seeded Cardinal (30-5) face No. 3 North Carolina State (29-6) Friday at 7 p.m. The winner in the Portland 4 Regional faces either No. 1 Texas (32-4) or No. 4 Gonzaga (32-3) Sunday for a berth in next weekend’s Final Four in Cleveland.

A senior All-American who was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Brink will end her Stanford career as one of the most decorated players in program history and is a potential No. 2 selection in the WNBA Draft behind Iowa’s Caitlin Clark.

Brink averaged 17.5 points, 11.9 rebounds and blocked 120 shots. The next highest on the team was fellow post Kiki Ireafen with 23. Her homecoming the popular topic among reporters during Stanford’s press session. She gave restaurant recommendations but stayed in with family Wednesday night.

“I live 15 minutes from here,” Brink said. “I got to see my parents, my grandma, my dog. Life is good. Last night I got my grandma’s pot roast, so I’m very happy.”

While Brink has played four seasons at Stanford, she charted her course from nearby Beaverton, Oregon, to Palo Alto much earlier than that. It happened at a Stanford basketball camp run by Tara VanDerveer’s sister Heidi  before Brink had even started at Southridge High.

Before camp was over, assistant Amy Tucker relayed some good news.

“Cam thought Heidi was me,” Tara VanDerveer said. “That’s probably good because Heidi is nicer than me.  Amy Tucker basically offered her as an eighth grader. Cam, I think she thought she was offering her to come back to camp again, but she was offering her a scholarship.

“I watched Cam play as a young player, and just knew she had such great potential. She has obviously realized that.”

The early commitment helped keep Brink’s grades up through a career during which she led Southridge to the Oregon Class 6A championship and was the USA Today Oregon Player of the Year. She concluded her career as a senior at Mountainside High.

“It was honestly a dream to be offered that soon,” Brink said. “It sets my sights clearly. I needed to focus on school. We know it’s hard to get in, even if you’re a student-athlete . . . in Oregon, we have Nike. My parents worked for Nike for 20 plus years. I’ve been surrounded by an amazing basketball culture. I wouldn’t rather grow up anywhere else.”

Leading up to the game, Brink is trying to get as many tickets as she from teammates who haven’t committed their allotments to friends and family and hopes she can return one day as a WNBA Player. She said her previous experiences at the Moda Center were to watch Steph and Seth Curry. Brink’s parents are Steph’s godparents.

Portland had a bid for a WNBA team that instead went to San Francisco, the Warriors and Joe Lacob.

“I really think that Portland deserves a franchise,” Brink said. “I think people would ranny behind a team here and support us. I was sad about it. Obviously the Bay is a good second for me, because at Stanford we’re close by. Hopefully one day. I think the way people are supporting women’s basketball, there’s more room for expansion. We have so much talent. The fact that there’s so few roster spots is a shame.”

Stanford Cardinal head coach Tara VanDerveer claps for a basket against the Iowa State Cyclones in the third quarter during the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif., on Sunday, March 24, 2024. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said Sweet 16 opponent North Carolina State has a balanced attack and can strike from inside and outside. Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

North Carolina State’s balanced attack

The Wolfpack have one of the most balanced scoring attacks in women’s college basketball with five players averaging double figures.

“Whenever somebody needs to step up, that’s what’s great, we don’t have to rely on one player on a given night,” North Carolina State coach Wes Moore said. “We’ve had our starting five, six or seven players put up 25 points on a given night. It’s good when you can have that kind of balance, not have to live and die with one player.”

Aziaha James, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, leads the way with 16.0 points per game, followed by 6-1 forward Saniya Rivers at 12.7.

“They have an inside game, outside game,” VanDerveer said. “They like to run. We like to run, too. I think it should be a high-scoring game, up-tempo game. Their athletic guards shoot the ball well. I think it should be a really great matchup.”

The biggest share of Stanford’s scoring comes from Iriafen (19.1 points per game) and Brink, with wing Hannah Jump averaging 10.1.

Toward that end, Stanford’s practice prep has included an emphasis on hustling on defense.

“I think they’re a really quick team,” guard Hannah Jump said. “Getting back in transition will be huge for us, just making sure we’re boxing out with people in front of us.. Have got to guard them, too. We have a big inside presence that they’re going to have to find a way to guard. I think that’s going to be kind of the positive for us coming in to tomorrow.”



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