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St. Ignatius sophomore to play for U.S. national under-16 team

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While mounds of seniors are seeing their high school athletic careers end as the waning days of the winter season come to a close, this week fans got a glimpse of just how bright one underclassman’s future might be.

The glimpse came in the form of a phone call to St. Ignatius sophomore Stephen Domingo, a call he’s been eagerly awaiting for more than four months, to tell him he will represent the United States on the under-16 team that will play in the World Championships from June 21-25 in León, Mexico.

“I’ve been waiting for the call since October, when I went for the first tryout,” Domingo said. “I don’t know if it’s hit me yet. Not many people get the opportunity to play for the USA. It’s once in a lifetime.”

Domingo and 11 others were selected from a pool of 33 of the best players under 16 years old in the country, including West Catholic Athletic League rival and Player of the Year Aaron Gordon from Archbishop Mitty High School. Domingo averaged just over 10 points per game and nearly five rebounds in WCAL play this year, earning him a second-team all-league selection.

Still with two years of high school basketball to play, St. Ignatius coach John DeBenedetti is more than happy knowing the 6-foot-7 forward will be a force for years to come.

“I’m just really excited for him. It’s a huge opportunity for him and a great honor,” DeBenedetti said. “It’s exciting on so many levels, for the school, for the basketball program. It’s just a wonderful thing.”

For Domingo, the selection fulfills a dream and a goal that he’s held for some time.

“You watch the NBA players, the Redeem Team, the Dream Team and you think, ‘Man, I wish I could do that,’ and when you finally get the chance to, it’s a mix of how much hard work has paid off and how much I don’t want to mess this up,” Domingo said. “Not many people get an opportunity like this.”

The added pressure is something Domingo and DeBenedetti both brought up, but being such an impact player at such an early age, the crosshairs of opposing players and teams have been on the sophomore for a while already.

“It puts a bit of a bull’s eye on him, but he’s used to that,” DeBenedetti said. “He’s been recognized as one of the top players in his class. That’s a little added pressure for him, but he’s a mature player and he knows how to deal with it.”

The news is not the only good thing going for Domingo and the Wildcats this week. They remained alive in the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III playoffs and faced third-seeded Burlingame late Wednesday night.

Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and www.SanFranPreps.com