While Kennedy Leonard grew up appreciating the culture in which her mother grew up, she had no idea how much that would benefit her this summer.

A sophomore-to-be for the Colorado women's basketball team, Leonard has been invited to try out for Great Britain's under-20 team that will compete in the European Championship this summer.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," said Leonard, who will attend training camp in Manchester in late June, with hopes of making the final roster. "There's like 16 of us going, and I think only 14 make it. I have to play in the tryouts, but I think I should be good."

This is an opportunity that has come to Leonard because her mother, Lyndsey, is a native of Scotland. During a recruiting trip to Great Britain this past season, former CU assistant coach Kelly Rae Finley told the program director about Leonard's heritage.

"They asked me if I was a citizen yet, and I wasn't, so I had to apply for citizenship," Leonard said.

Two days after filling out some paperwork, Leonard became a British citizen, allowing the team to invite her to try out.

"I've never really thought about going over there and playing, but I'm excited," said Leonard, who visited Britain when she was about 6 or 7 years old and has relatives there. "There's a ton of different rules, you play with a different ball, and then the opportunity to meet new people and people who aren't from here and play basketball is what is probably going to be the coolest part about it."


The Buffs' starting point guard, Leonard averaged 12.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds last season while earning Pac-12 all-freshman team honors.

She's hoping this experience will help her grow a bit more as a player. If she makes the team, the tournament will take place in early July, with games in Ireland, Romania and Montenegro.

"Being able to get some games in over the summer when other people can't, I think that's going to be really important for when I come back, to be in a different shape or different mode," she said.

Of course, Leonard will bring her competitive spirit, but hopes to get more out of the opportunity than just a few extra games.

"Every time I go on the court, I want to do well and want the team to do well," she said. "I'm looking forward to that, but just the experience too, and being able to go back over there and see where my mom started out and where my aunts and uncles are and then just to play in a place that isn't here, I'll bring a lot of stuff with me when I come back to start next season."

Finley had gone to Great Britain to recruit Eleanor Jones, a 6-foot-2 forward from Salisbury, England. New head coach JR Payne signed Jones to a letter of intent last month.

Jones is included in a picture on the web page that announces the 16 players who will try out, but Jones is not one of them. She elected not to play this summer.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.