A 17-year-old player from Rosemère is about to experience the frenzy of March Madness, in her very first season in the NCAA.
Cassandre Prosper and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish kick off Friday at 3:30 p.m. when they face the Southern Utah Thunderbirds.
“They are the champions of their division (the Western Athletic Conference), Prosper said on the phone before a practice on Thursday. We studied a lot of video footage. I am very confident about our team. It should be fine. »
The Fighting Irish are the third seed out of 16 in their leg of the tournament. The Thunderbirds are in the 14th echelon.
Prosper, a six-foot-two guard, was first drawn to basketball through his parents and older brother Olivier-Maxence, a third-pointer with the Marquette Golden Eagles.
His mother played with the Concordia and Manhattan College Stingers, while his father also played for the Stingers.
“My mother coached me and helped me a lot to develop when I was playing in Montreal and Laval,” said the one who then went to Capital Courts Academy, in the suburbs of Ottawa.
Olivier-Maxence was also a great inspiration.
“I always wanted to be like him,” Prosper said. My brother advises me a lot and he watches all my matches. He told me that there will be big crowds and a lot of attention towards me, but that by staying calm and confident, it will be fine. He prepared me especially for the mental aspect (of the NCAA). »
When it came to choosing where to go in the NCAA, the head coach was the biggest factor.
“Niele Ivey was the big reason I turned to Notre Dame,” Prosper said. She cares about her players. She loves her players, she wants to win and she loves basketball. »
Among the pros or former pros, Prosper cited Kevin Durant, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Lloyd as role models.
“They are people who inspire me a lot,” she mentioned.
Prosper also shone with Team Canada, including at last year’s FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup in Hungary, where she finished fifth in the scoring standings.
“The international is very different in terms of game concepts,” Prosper said. Also, there is only in the United States, I play against girls two, three or five years older. Both levels are very intense.
“Having played internationally, it taught me different styles of play in rhythm and structure. It helped me a lot. »
Prosper played his first match with the Fighting Irish on December 29. Since then, she has delivered three performances of 11 or 12 points.
On defense, she shined with 16 steals in 12 games, in addition to 11 blocks during the same period.
His average playing time has quickly increased beyond 20 minutes to reach 27 and a half minutes since the end of January.
“Since the start of the season, I’ve improved in my decision-making,” Prosper said. I developed my technical game with repetition in training. I worked a lot on my shots too.
“In high school, I often had the ball and I could beat the players (in the first place) with speed or agility. In the NCAA, all the girls are tall, fast and athletic. »
For Olivier-Maxence and Marquette, the tournament will start Friday at 1:45 p.m. against the University of Vermont.