Each week leading up to the Olympic Games later this summer, we will introduce you to the WNBA players who will be representing their countries in Athens. From first-timers to veteran Olympians, the WNBA's best and brightest stars will be showcasing their skills on the world's biggest stage.

Shannon Johnson, United States
By Matt Wurst, WNBA.com
The Basics

Country United States
Hometown Hartsville, S.C.
WNBA Team San Antonio Silver Stars
Position Guard
Height 5-7
Weight 144 lbs.
Birthday Aug. 18, 1974
Olympic exp. None
When you have some of the best interior scorers and perimeter shooters in all the world, you want to make sure you have a player that can get them the ball. Silver Stars point guard Shannon Johnson is just that player. From her quickness getting the ball up the court to her innate passing ability, Johnson is the floor leader that holds the U.S. National Team together.

Perhaps not as well-known on the international basketball stage as some of her teammates, Johnson was an intergral member of the 2002 USA World Championship squad, averaging 16.0 points per game in the medal round en route to helping the U.S. capture the gold medal. For her efforts, Johnson was voted to the five-member 2002 All-FIBA World Championship Team and named a core member of the 2004 U.S. Team.

The South Carolina native is a four-time WNBA All-Star and earned All-WNBA Second Team honors in 1999 and 2000. She began her WNBA career with the Orlando Miracle in 1999, and following the 2002 season, the Mohegan Sun purchased the Miracle, relocated the team and renamed it the Connecticut Sun. Johnson in 2003 ranked 20th among league leaders in scoring (12.4 ppg.) and averaged a league fourth best 5.8 apg. in guiding the Sun to the Eastern Conference Finals. She was traded to the San Antonio Silver Stars prior to the start of the 2004 season.

This spring, Johnson started in 11 of the 12 games in which she appeared for the U.S. in the exhibition tour, averaged 7.1 ppg and 4.6 apg and helped lead the team to a 13-0 start record. Her previous experience with USA Basketball includes a number of tournaments and gold medals at the 1997 World University Games, 1996 R. William Jones Cup and 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival.

Johnson will be going to her first Olympics
(Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images)
Up close and Personal

Do you have a favorite Olympic sport other than basketball?
"Track and field."

Did you have any favorite Olympic athletes growing up?
"Wilma Rudolph. When she was young she was told she would never be able to walk, and then to become an Olympic sprinter is an amazing story."

Are there any particular athletes that you are looking forward to meeting?
"Anyone representing the USA."

What will it be like playing for the U.S. in Athens?
"After playing for USA Basketball for 11 years and finally getting the chance to play on the Olympic team is a dream come true. My family and friends have supported me for so long to keep hope alive and never give up. All of the hard work has finally paid off. To put on my USA jersey, I not only represent and play for my country but also all of the ladies I started out with in 1993 at the Olympic Festival. I always had my eye on being an Olympian and now I will make my family proud this summer."

What are you most looking forward to about the Games?
"My first memory will be walking out during the opening ceremonies with all of the other American Athletes, and the last, well everyone knows that…winning the gold."

Do you think the U.S. needs to be wary of any other nations?
"I believe every year each team keeps getting better and better, but we will always have the best players here in the U.S."

What is it like to play with such a talented group of players?
"I think everyone takes the part of their game that they do well and exceeds with it, and as a group we just go out and play together and have fun."

Game on Game

Tina Thompson, U.S. teammate:
"Shannon Johnson sees the floor really, really well. She's a strong point guard."

Katie Smith, U.S. teammate:
"She has an amazing athletic ability and brings a lot of overseas experience. She's always pressing the tempo of the game and she is like a gnat on defense - she is just always there and in her opposition's way!"

Sheryl Swoopes, U.S. teammate:
"Shannon Johnson is quick at her position, understands the game and does a great job of getting other people involved."

Svetlana Abrosimova, Team Russia forward:
"You don't know what to expect. She is quick and can take anyone to the hole one-on-one. You never know how much she is going to score."

Dawn Staley, U.S. teammate:
"Pee Wee is one of the most exciting players on both ends of the floor, well-deserving of her first Olympic experience.."

Yolanda Griffith, U.S. teammate:
"She is quick like lightning. The Speed Racer."


USA Basketball Statistics
TEAM
G/S
FGM-FGA
PCT
3PM-3PA
PCT
FTM-FTA
PCT
RPG
PPG
AST
BLK
STL
2004 WNT
12/11
32-64
.500
5-14
.357
16-21
.762
1.7
7.1
55
2
20
2002 WC
9/0
29- 61
.475
5- 18
.278
19- 24
.792
1.7
9.1
18
1
13
2002 OWC
4/2
12- 31
.387
6- 14
.429
7- 10
.700
2.8
9.3
13
2
9
2002 WNT
1/0
4- 6
.667
1- 1
1.000
0- 0
.---
2.0
9.0
4
0
2
1999 WNT
5/0
9- 22
.409
3- 9
.333
8- 10
.800
1.0
5.8
8
3
7
1998 WNT
5/0
7- 14
.500
1- 2
.500
10- 13
.769
1.8
5.0
5
0
5
1997 WUG
6/0
4- 8
.500
0- 3
.000
6- 8
.750
1.3
2.3
15
0
10
1996 JCUP
9/0
16- 27
.593
4- 8
.500
7- 13
.538
2.0
4.8
18
0
18
1995 JCUP
7/2
10- 19
.526
1- 6
.167
9- 11
.818
1.0
4.3
9
1
6
1993 USOFS
4/4
9- 20
.450
2- 3
.667
5- 8
.625
3.8
6.3
12
2
4

Previous:
Diana Taurasi, USA
Sheryl Swoopes, USA
Yolanda Griffith, USA
Dawn Staley, USA
Sue Bird, USA
Tina Thompson, USA
Katie Smith, USA
Lauren Jackson, Australia
Lisa Leslie, USA
Tamika Catchings, USA
Swin Cash, USA

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