By Ryan PlunkettArkansas Media Relations
Two University of Arkansas student-athletes were chosen to play for Team USA in their respective sports over the summer and had tremendous success. Junior infielder Andy Wilkins was named to the 2009 USA National (Collegiate) Baseball Team and Sophomore C’eira Ricketts was a member of the 2009 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team.
Ricketts, last year’s SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and Associated Press SEC Newcomer of the Year, helped the USA Women’s Basketball team in Bangkok, Thailand, win a gold medal over Spain in the championship game. They finished with an overall record of 8-1 after losing only to Spain in their first game in the preliminary round.
A 5-9 guard from Louisville, Ky., Ricketts finished the year on Team USA with 33 points, 12 steals and 17 rebounds. She led Arkansas in scoring, assists and steals as a freshman with the Razorbacks and carried Arkansas to its first postseason since 2005 making it to the Sweet 16 in the WNIT.
This season Ricketts has already been selected Preseason All-SEC First-Team after being the top scoring freshman most of the year and leading the league in steals as a freshman. The time spent with some of the best women’s basketball players in the USA will only help in her sophomore year.
“Her experience with USA basketball will be an asset,” Arkansas women’s head coach Tom Collen said. “The sky is the limit for this young lady.”
After a late call to try out for his team, Wilkins was selected as one of five infielders on the USA (Collegiate) Baseball Team. Team USA finished the summer with a record of 19-5 after winning the World Baseball Challenge in Prince George, British Columbia. Team USA beat Germany, 8-1, in the championship game at Prince George Citizen Field.
Playing with wood bats, Wilkins hit a towering 435-foot grand slam against Guatemala in Durham, N.C. as Team USA prepared for its World Tour. The blast cleared the park in right field and brought all 9,543 fans to their feet.
Wilkins finished the summer on Team USA with a .232 batting average. He had 16 RBI, two home runs and an impressive .988 fielding percentage at first base. Wilkins started 19 games for Team USA and was the only player on the roster to appear in all 24 games.
The Broken Arrow, Okla., native was a key player for the Razorback’s baseball team this past year while leading the team in batting average, doubles, home runs, total bases and RBI. He finished the year in a tie for fourth on Arkansas’ all-time single season mark for home runs with 19. He also ranks 10th on the list with 150 total bases and 37 extra-base hits.
Wilkins is starting to go up the ladder on Arkansas’ career charts too. He is fifth overall with a career slugging percentage of .620. The Razorbacks baseball team will look for Wilkins to have a similar year this season after being named the NCAA Norman Regional’s Most Outstanding Player as well as the team’s most valuable hitter.