Breanna Stewart is on top of the world.
Yet the former UConn standout and the reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player remains committed to her mantra, humble and hungry, even after adding a second FIBA World Cup gold medal to her resume.
“It’s just knowing that I can always get better,” Stewart said Sunday. “Obviously I have won a lot, but my individual play can be better. That is what’s exciting for me, knowing that I have been successful but knowing there’s a lot I can improve on, too.”
The thought that there’s another level for the 24-year-old forward to reach is tough to believe the way she’s played this summer and into the early fall.
Stewart had just 10 points and five rebounds Sunday for the United States, but it was more than enough as the Americans rolled past Australia 73-56 in Tenerife, Spain, to win an unprecedented third straight World Cup title.
Stewart was named the event’s MVP after averaging 16.3 points on 58.0 percent shooting, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.0 in 26.8 minutes over five games.
“At the start of this year she really decided what she wanted to do with her basketball career,” said Team USA point guard Sue Bird, also Stewart’s teammate with the WNBA champion Seattle Storm. “She wanted to be an MVP. She wanted to win a championship. She wanted to come here and put her mark on USA Basketball. As a young player, that is not always easy but she did it.
“And listen, this kid played out of position this entire tournament. She was playing the three (small forward). That speaks volumes for somebody to be able to play out of position and still find a way to have an impact, a huge impact, an MVP-like impact.”
The gold medal was Stewart’s eighth in 10 events with USA Basketball, which includes the 2016 Olympics, the 2014 World Cup, and the 2011 and 2013 FIBA U-19 world championships. Her first came at the 2009 FIBA Americas U-16 Championship.
Her only misses came when she settled for silver at the 2015 Pan American Games and when the Americans didn’t medal at the 2011 Pan Am games when she was the first USA high school player in 36 years to compete.
“Wearing a USA uniform is special for me because it’s something that I’ve been doing since I was young,” Stewart said. “Seeing the players that came before me, winning gold medals, it’s always meant a lot to me.”
When the Storm completed a WNBA Finals sweep of Washington on Sept. 12, Stewart became the 11th player to win NCAA and WNBA and FIBA World Cup and Olympic gold medals. Also on that list are her fellow UConn alums Bird, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Swin Cash, Asjha Jones, and Kara Wolters,
“It means a lot to me, especially when you talk about the people that are on that list,” Stewart said.