Top ’24 player in MN (Benilde St. Margaret’s) Olivia Olson Q&A with Gopherhole

Olivia Olson, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward from St. Louis Park (MN) Benidle St. Margaret’s, is ranked as the number three player in the Class of 2024 by ESPN. 

Olson averaged 23.2 points per game this past season as a freshman, scoring in double figures in all 16 games. She had twelve games of 20 points or more points, including a season-high 34  against Bloomington Kennedy. Benilde St. Margaret’s finished 9-9, losing to Holy Angels 61-50 in the Section 6AAA finals.

Olson averaged 10.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game this summer, helping lead the USA to a 6-0 record and gold medal at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Women’s Championship in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Olson has attracted the interest of most of the top college programs in the country. GopherHole attended a recent open gym that saw Iowa associate head coach Jan Jensen, Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly, Oregon head coach Kelly Graves, Minnesota head coach Lindsay Whalen and an Oregon State coach watching Olson.

GopherHole recently caught up with Olson to learn more about playing USA basketball, early recruitment and her upcoming sophomore season. 

GopherHole: You recently played for Team USA down in Mexico. What was that experience like? 

Olivia Olson: It was awesome. It was fun to play with the top of the top. We played well together and we won the gold.  

GopherHole: I know that you get a lot of pride representing your high school, but what does it mean to have “USA” on your chest? 

Olivia Olson: That has always been one of my dreams. A once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m just glad to represent.  

GopherHole: Are you planning on trying to do more stuff with USA Basketball down the line? 

Olivia Olson: Yes, we qualified for the World Cup next year, so there will be another tryout process in August. 

GopherHole: To be honest, I know that you handled most of those games pretty easily, but I know that there were a lot of intense practices leading up to you even making that team. What was that experience like playing against some of the best players, even in practice? 

Olivia Olson: It was a super cool experience. I got better every day, just playing against everyone else on my team and we really worked hard twice a day.  

GopherHole: You had a great freshman year. What are the main things you really worked on this offseason to have an even better sophomore season? 

Olivia Olson: I’ve been working on my three-point shooting and I think that showed at USA Basketball. That was kind of the position I played. Ballhandling and seeing the floor better. 

GopherHole: What are the expectations for Benidle this year? 

Olivia Olson: I think we’ll make it to state this year. Had a good run at it. We could even have a chance at winning it, so I think that we’ll be good this year. 

GopherHole: You have some new players coming in. I know that Kendall McGee, a very talented player who transferred from Breck. How many returning starters do you have back? 

Olivia Olson: I think that we have three returners and a couple of new people and the new freshman are going to be really good for us. 

GopherHole: As a sophomore, you are going to be expected to be a little bit more of a leader this year. Is that something you are looking forward to? 

Olivia Olson: I have had to take on that role and I’m excited to help my team to wins and lead on and off the court. 

GopherHole: You had a lot of coaches at your open gym. Did you notice them or do you try not to when you are playing? 

Olivia Olson: I noticed them. I knew that they were coming in, but I am used to it from the AAU season, so I just try to go and play my game.

GopherHole: How pleased were you with your AAU season? 

Olivia Olson: I was really happy with how I played. I can always get better at it, but I thought I had a good all-around year. 

GopherHole: Did you win any tournaments? 

Olivia Olson: We lost in semis in the UA circuit. Next year, I think we have a good chance of winning it and we won some local tournaments. 

GopherHole: How much do you think that your game has changed from last year at this time to this year? 

Olivia Olson: It has changed a crazy amount. I got better at every point in my game. Just my IQ all-around, I think. 

GopherHole: I know that it is early in the recruiting process as schools can’t even call you yet, but are you liking it so far? 

Olivia Olson: Yeah, it’s been fun. It’s been fun to get to know different people and visit different schools and see the culture and what I want in a college. I’ve been to Michigan. Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Iowa State. 

GopherHole: What was that experience like because I know a lot of the campuses weren’t completely open because of COVID, but what is it like getting to meet some of the coaches that have been recruiting you? 

Olivia Olson: It’s cool to see them, not just on the sideline and talking to them on the phones. Seeing them in person. Kind of getting to know them and their schools and meeting players and what their culture is all about. 

GopherHole: Is that kind of nice that you are getting a little bit of a head start because a lot of kids might not make those visits until they were a junior or senior? You are doing that early and getting to know some of the coaches.  

Olivia Olson: Yes. We are trying to get to as many as we can early, so it’s not as stressful down the road.

GopherHole: Do you come from a sports family? 

Olivia Olson: My mom played volleyball in college and my dad ran cross country at Northwest Missouri. My sister doesn’t play in college, but my brother is a high competitive soccer player.

GopherHole: I know that you are a long way from making a college choice, but what are going to be the main factors that are going to make you pick School A over School B or C? 

Olivia Olson: Probably the area. The culture. How people treat each other. The coaching staff, if I like them. 

GopherHole: I know Coach Whalen has made getting the top in-state girls to stay in Minnesota a priority. I don’t know how well you know the seniors, but they have four commits in Braun, Holloway, Battle and Heyer. How well do you know them? 

Olivia Olson: Mal (Mallory Heyer) plays for Fury, so I know her pretty well. Everyone else I know because they are Minnesota basketball. It is fun watching them play. 

GopherHole: Does that make you look at Minnesota a little differently because they have done a good job, especially the last two years getting some of the top in-state girls? 

Olivia Olson: For sure, it plays an impact on it.

GopherHole: You are so young, did you even get a chance to watch Coach Whalen when she was playing at Minnesota, or did you watch her more with the Lynx? 

Olivia Olson: I watched her more with the Lynx. I loved watching her play point guard. Awesome passes. IQ is out of the sky. 

GopherHole: What is the best part of being Olivia Olson? 

Olivia Olson: Just paving my own way, I guess. Playing my own game and doing what I do. 

GopherHole: Is there a tough part of being you? 

Olivia Olson: I have gotten a lot of attention, but I just try to take it day by day and see what the next day brings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *