Princeton’s Jackie Young, Team USA takes home gold in Olympic 3×3 women’s basketball, ‘My life changed like that’: From vacation to Tokyo Olympics, Jackie Young wins 3-on-3 gold

Princeton’s Jackie Young, Team USA takes home gold in Olympic 3×3 women’s basketball, ‘My life changed like that’: From vacation to Tokyo Olympics, Jackie Young wins 3-on-3 gold

Princeton’s Jackie Young, Team USA takes home gold in Olympic 3×3 women’s basketball

Princeton native Jackie Young and Team USA took down the Russian Olympic Committee in the final round of the Olympic women’s 3×3 basketball, winning 18-15 to take home the gold medal.

Fans gathered downtown at the Princeton Theatre and Community Center, which opened its doors so people could watch Young live at 2:30 a.m.

Young and her teammates beat France to start the day on Wednesday morning. Around 140 fans in Princeton rallied to watch the game.

Her friends and family told 14 News they are so excited to have Young representing their community.

”I can’t even explain it – watching her from mini ball, all the way to now, it’s just unbelievable to be able to see her playing on the stage she’s playing at now,” Sean Packer, a Young family friend said.

”Of course, we love our country,” Jonita Green, Young’s cousin said. “But when you have your hometown girl playing, and she just happens to be my cousin on top of that, it’s like you just get that much more hyped up.”

Young’s family says she got the unexpected call from U.S. 3×3 women’s basketball head coach, Kara Lawson, while on vacation in Florida, finding out she was going to be placed on the team last minute.

“She got a call like at (11 p.m.) and it was from the (Team USA) people and Kara Lawson,” Kiare Young, Jackie’s sister said. “So they were taking her through the process of what was happening and what could be happening.”

Friends and family say they didn’t find out that Young was going to the Olympics until she was already on the way to Tokyo. Young’s family says she made them and her hometown proud with her performance at this year’s Games.

“Who would have ever dreamed this would become reality,” Green said. “I mean, she dreamed it, but we kind of sitting back like – okay Jackie, we gonna go with you.”


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“A random call,” she thought, and some people enjoying a rare vacation from a taxing job might just have let the phone keep ringing. Young decided to pick up. Because she did, she’s an Olympic gold medalist.Young, a rising WNBA star, had flown to Florida for a four-day getaway to relax during the league’s monthlong Olympic break. That night, USA Basketball director Jay Demings called and asked if she’d like to take a different type of trip. Before long, Kara Lawson was on the line too. Lawson was set to coach Team USA’s inaugural 3×3 basketball team in Tokyo starting … next week. The plane left Monday. Would Young want to join?Demings and Lawson didn’t offer her a guaranteed spot on the four-woman roster that night. But earlier in the day, Katie Lou Samuelson, one of the original four, had tested positive for COVID-19. The Olympic competition started in seven days. The time difference cut the window to 6 1/2. The Japanese government was requiring two negative COVID tests on separate days as a condition for entry to the country. So, Young was told, no guarantees … but if you’d like to be an Olympian, get yourself home ASAP.
a close up of a person talking on a cell phone: TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 28: Gold medalists Kelsey Plum and Jacquelyn Young of Team United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the 3x3 Basketball competition on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Aomi Urban Sports Park on July 28, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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© Gold medalists Kelsey Plum and Jacquelyn Young of Team United States pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the 3×3 Basketball competition on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Aomi Urban Sports Park.
The following morning, she hopped on a plane back to Las Vegas, where she plays for the WNBA’s Aces. By the time she landed, Team USA’s Olympic opener was 5 1/2 days away. Kelsey Plum, Allisha Gray and Stefanie Dolson departed the following morning. Young took a COVID test. She started packing. She learned that Samuelson had indeed contracted COVID and been ruled out of the Olympics. Young felt for her, but jumped at the opportunity to join the team. On Tuesday, she boarded a 12-hour commercial flight, and landed in Tokyo on Wednesday, jet-lagged, three days before the opener.
Ad 00:27 – up next “‘OK not to be OK’: Mental health takes top role at Olympics”
‘OK not to be OK’: Mental health takes top role at Olympics
The following day, now officially a last-minute Olympian, she admitted: “I was definitely shocked.”Then there was business to attend to. A mental switch to flip. Three-on-three basketball is still, at its core, basketball, but it’s a different, faster-paced, more physical version of the game. Many experienced 3×3 players say the learning curve is steep. Young had played it in 2019, and at a few training camps in 2020, but her elite experience was minimal.But there was no time to sit down and think, to scheme, to settle in Tokyo. The two-games-per-day competition arrived on Saturday. Jill Biden showed up to watch. A week after being on vacation, perhaps planning to watch the Olympics from home, Young was meeting the first lady.Five days later, she was diving for loose balls on an outdoor court and careening out of bounds to save possessions. She was rushing to embrace teammates at the free-throw line to celebrate an 18-15 final victory over Russia. She was fist-bumping International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.Later, she clasped hands with Plum and Dolson and stepped onto a podium. Dolson placed a gold medal around her neck. She posed for pictures with it. Pretended to bite. Clutched it with her left hand as she walked off into the night.And to think: “I was on vacation. And then my life changed like that,” she said with a snap of her fingers. “And now I’m a gold medalist. It’s crazy how things work out.”

Jackie Young (basketball)

Jackie Young
Jackie Young.jpg
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Young with Las Vegas in 2019
No. 0 – Las Vegas Aces
Position Shooting guard
League WNBA
Personal information
Born September 16, 1997 (age 23)
Princeton, Indiana
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Listed weight 165 lb (75 kg)
Career information
High school Princeton Community
(Princeton, Indiana)
College Notre Dame (2016–2019)
WNBA draft 2019 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Las Vegas Aces
Playing career 2019–present
Career history
2019–present Las Vegas Aces
2020 Elazığ İl Özel İdarespor[1]
Career highlights and awards
Stats at
Stats at
Women’s 3×3 basketball
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United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place
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2020 Tokyo 3×3 Team

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Jackie Young (born September 16, 1997) is an American professional basketball player for the Las Vegas Aces of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was drafted first overall by the Las Vegas Aces in the 2019 WNBA draft A graduate of Princeton Community High School, she played college basketball for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, reaching two NCAA finals and winning one in 2018.

High school career

In Young’s high school career, the PCHS Tigers posted a 97-9 (.915) record. She finished as the leading scorer (girls’ or boys’ basketball) in Indiana high school history with 3,268 points, eclipsing the 26-year-old record set by Damon Bailey. Overall, Young averaged 30.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game, while shooting .583 from the field, .382 from beyond the arc and .858 from the free-throw line. She led Princeton to 53 consecutive wins and the 2015 Indiana Class 3A state championship. She Scored 36 points in state title game, setting the record for most points in a Class 3A final, as well as the most points by one player in any Indiana girls’ basketball state title game since 1980.

Young led her team to a 27–1 record in her senior season, ranking third in the state and ninth in the nation in scoring with 34.9 PPG. She also achieved 9.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.8 steals. She shot .605 as a senior with a .429 mark from three-point range and an .861 free-throw percentage. All told, she compiled 20 30-point games, 10 40-point games and a season high 53 points on Nov. 20 vs. county rival Gibson Southern.

Young set the Indiana high school girls’ basketball single season scoring record as a junior, recording 1,003 points. She was the fifth player of either sex in state history to score 1,000 points in a season. She was ranked in the top-10 by nearly all major national recruiting services, including a No. 5 rank by Prospects Nation.

Early professional career

Young had the option to remain at Notre Dame for the 2019-20 college season, but opted to join the WNBA draft. She was rewarded with being the first draft pick, and joined the Las Vegas Aces, coached by Bill Laimbeer. Weeks after the announcement she was signed to a multi-year deal with Puma as it expanded its support for women’s basketball.

Her first season was one of adjustment and reliance on one of her strengths in the college seasons in being able to protect and distribute the ball. A change in role and need to move from an established team unit to a new environment meant a need to develop her game. She commented later, “I wasn’t the point guard in college, at certain times I would play point. So coming to the league and playing strictly the 1 was definitely different for me, definitely an adjustment”.

Despite these challenges, her contribution to the team reaching the WNBA semi-finals, and her finishing eighth in the WNBA with 153 total assists and a sixth ranking 2.89 assist/turnover ratio, were recognized by her making the annual all-star rookie team.

As the season came to end she joined Turkish side Elazığ, but her time there lasted only two games due to the coronavirus-induced cancellation of the league.

As her second pro season started, coach Bill Laimbeer explained that he saw that season as a potential “break-out” season. This had been expected as “some (rookies) will come in like Sue Bird and others will take a little time to develop. We realized that Jackie would take time to develop. I think Jackie is a very level person and she realizes that after the first year that she figured out what she has to do body-wise and how to play the game. I think this year you’re going to see a dramatic shift on the basketball court more so than she had last year.”

Career statistics

  GP Games played   GS Games started  MPG Minutes per game  RPG Rebounds per game
 APG Assists per game  SPG Steals per game  BPG Blocks per game  PPG Points per game
 TO Turnovers per game  FG% Field-goal percentage  3P% 3-point field-goal percentage  FT% Free-throw percentage
 Bold Career high ° League leader


2016–17 Notre Dame 33 0 21.4 .463 .379 .803 4.6 1.4 1.8 0.3 1.5 7.3
2017–18 Notre Dame 38 38 34.4 .520 .282 .789 6.6 3.7 1.4 0.5 2.4 14.5
2018–19 Notre Dame 38 37 32.2 .528 .452 .785 7.4 5.1 1.3 0.4 1.9 14.7
Career 109 75 29.7 .512 .364 .790 6.3 3.5 1.2 0.4 1.9 12.4


Regular season

2019 Las Vegas 34 34 22.6 .322 .318 .808 3.3 4.5 0.8 0.4 1.6 6.6
2020 Las Vegas 22 0 25.8 .492 .231 .852 4.3 3.0 0.7 0.1 1.6 11.0
Career 2 years, 1 team 56 34 23.8 .398 .298 .828 3.7 3.9 0.7 0.3 1.6 8.3


Figures are average per game
Turkish League 2020 Elazig 2 20.5 4.5 28.6% 0.0% 50.0% 1.5 2.0 3.5 2.5 2.0 0.0 2.0 3.0 1.0

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