Whalen and Wiggins Added to 2010-12 USA Basketball Roster

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL Ė USA Basketball today announced that Lynx guards Lindsay Whalen and Candice Wiggins have been added to the 2010-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team, joining Lynx teammate Seimone Augustus on the roster. Whalen and Wiggins were among 12 athletes added to the roster today, bringing the pool of players from which the 2010 USA World Championship Team and, should the USA qualify, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected to 20. Player selections were made by the five member USA Basketball Womenís National Team Player Selection Committee.

Originally drafted fourth overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun, Whalen, 27, has averaged 11.6 points, 4.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in 197 career regular season WNBA games (196 starts), all with Connecticut. The Lynx acquired the Hutchinson, Minn. native, along with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft on January 12, 2010 from the Sun in exchange for guard Renee Montgomery and the first overall choice in the 2010 WNBA Draft. With 2,290 points, 832 rebounds 964 career assists, Whalen is on pace, in 2010, to become just the third player in WNBA history to post 2,500+ points, 1,000+ rebounds and 1,000+ assists. The two-time WNBA All-Star's 4.9 assists per game ranks fifth all-time in WNBA history.

Whalen's experience with USA Basketball began in 2002 when, as a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, she won a gold medal at the 2002 FIBA U21 World Championship as a member of the 2002 USA FIBA U21 World Championship team. Additionally, the 5-foot-9 guard was a member of the 2007-08 USA Basketball Womenís National Team, participating in the 2008 USA National Team spring training camp in Spain where the team went 2-0, with Whalen averaging 12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

ďI just want to thank everyone at USA Basketball for this tremendous honor,Ē said Whalen. ďTo be recognized as one of the best in the world is truly humbling. Iím looking forward to the chance to play with my Lynx teammates in Seimone Augustus and Candice Wiggins, as well as the opportunity to learn from one of the great coaches in the womenís game in Coach Auriemma. Wearing the red, white and blue is always a special feeling.Ē

Wiggins, 23, holds career averages of 14.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in 64 WNBA contests. Originally drafted 3rd overall by the Lynx in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Wiggins went on to win the WNBA's Sixth Woman of the Year award her rookie year, averaging 15.7 points, the league's highest scoring average ever for a player off the bench.

Wiggins' honor adds to her extensive USA Basketball resume, which includes six gold medals in international play. Most recently, the 5-foot-11 guard participated in USA Basketball's fall training camp session and the 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational, winning Gold. Wiggins' international experience began in 2003 when she captured a bronze medal at the 2003 USA Youth Development Festival.

ďIt feels great to be chosen to represent the United States as a member of the Womenís National Team," Wiggins said. "I'm thankful to the selection committee for giving me the chance to represent my country and for the opportunity to play with the best female basketball players in the world at the highest level.Ē

Also named to the team today were Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (University of Connecticut), Shameka Christon (New York Liberty), Candice Dupree (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun) and Maya Moore (University of Connecticut).

The athletes join previously announced USA National Team members and two-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); as well as í08 gold medalists Augustus, Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury).

The Lynx join the Connecticut Sun (Jones, Lawson and Montgomery) as the only WNBA teams to have three players included on Team USA's 20-player roster.

As was the case over the last quadrennium, the USA team will be fluid and athletes will be added progressively to the USA National Team roster. It is expected that the official 12-member 2010 USA World Championship Team and 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, should the USA qualify, will be comprised of players from the 2010-12 USA National Team.

The U.S. will look to capture the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will be held Sept. 23 Ė Oct. 3 in Brno, Karlovy Vary and Ostrava, Czech Republic, with the gold medal winner earning a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in Ď10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).

Additional quotes from Whalen and Wiggins on their inclusion on the 2010-12 USA Basketball Women's National Team Roster:

What does it mean to be named to the USA Basketball Womenís National Team?

Whalen: It is a huge honor of course to be named to the roster for the team. Looking at the names of the players who have played on the teams before me and who are on the team now, I just feel honored to be mentioned with them. I know it will be a challenge to make the final roster, but that is what makes the USA so good I believe.

Wiggins: This is an amazing honor. Playing for the USA has been a dream of mine since I was a young player, and will continue to be so in my career as a professional athlete. Itís amazing to be a part of this "dream" teamís journey, and to have a chance to compete for a spot. America is full of so many talented players and itís great. It breeds healthy competition and I'm ready for that.

Do you think your past history with USA Basketball and your international play helped?

Whalen: Yeah, I think playing with USA Basketball when I was younger and some of the competitions before the last selections helped me. Also, this being my fourth year of playing in Europe I have gotten to know the style and rules of international basketball better than I did when I was right out of college. So hopefully that experience will continue to help me along the way.

Wiggins: Iíve been playing for USA Basketball since I was 17, and itís taught me a lot in these six years. Iíve been able to grow a healthy appreciation for the international game through my participation in the various international competitions. Iíve always seen playing on the national team as the ultimate achievement. USA sets the highest standard for womenís basketball in the world, and Iíve learned to always take pride in that.

What do you bring to the mix Ė what are your strengths?

Whalen: I think I bring solid play at the point guard position and a good understanding of how to get my teammates the ball and make plays when the team needs them. There are so many talented players on the court, as a point guard it will be my job to find them and put them in the right spots on the court. Other than that, a good attitude and willingness to just help the team in whatever way I can is what I will bring.

Wiggins: I believe my strengths are not only what I can bring individually, but what I can bring to the team. Iíve matured as a player and I understand the international game much better from a basketball perspective. But I also I understand what it means to sacrifice and play for a bigger cause, and thatís exactly what USA Basketball is all about. Iím honored to have the opportunity to help make this team great.

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