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.

Ruth Riley, United States
By Matt Wurst, WNBA.com
The Basics

Country United States
Hometown Macy, IN
WNBA Team Detroit Shock
Position Center
Height 6-4
Weight 204 lbs.
Birthday August 28, 1979
Olympic exp. None
By her own admission, Shock center Ruth Riley is living a dream. After playing several games with the U.S. Senior Women's National Team in the spring of 2004 and garnering serious consideration for one of the roster spots, Riley was initally selected as an alternate. However, she was ultimately named to the team as a result of an injury to one of the core members of the team.

Not only is she contributing to the team, but Riley, only 24 years old, has a chance (along with teammate Swin Cash) to join a rare group of women to have won an NCAA title, a WNBA title and an Olympic gold medal. Onle Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Kara Wolters have pulled off the feat until now, but accolades are nothing new to the 2003 WNBA Finals and 2001 Final Four MVP. Fans have also gotten to know Detroit Shock center Ruth Riley a lot better this season as a result of more television exposure thanks to the Shock's title in addition to her role as WNBA.com resident blogger.

The 2001 Naismith and Associated Press College Player of the Year, Riley first donned the red, white and blue as a member of the 1998 USA Select Team that posted a 7-1 record against national teams from Puerto Rico, Poland and Spain and averaged a team second best 10.3 ppg. and a team leading 7.6 rpg. Riley also trained with the 2002 USA Women’s Senior National Team in hopes of making the 2002 USA World Championship squad, but was not on the 12-member roster that claimed gold in China. She joined the 2002 team for the entire spring training, practicing with the squad in Houston, and San Antonio, Texas; New York, New York; and Colorado Springs, Colo.; but missed making the final cut.

So far this season, Riley is having a career year, averaging 11.4 points per game and 6.3 assists per game. She was officially named as a member of the 2004 squad on July 22.

Riley will be going to her first Olympics
(Jesse D. Garrabrandt/NBAE/Getty Images)
Up close and Personal

What is your favorite Olympic sport other than basketball?
"Gymnastics."

What are your favorite Olympic memories growing up?
"I remember watching the Dream Team in 1992."

What are you most looking forward to about Athens?
"I am most looking forward to winning the gold medal."

What will you do with your medal if you are fortunate enough to win one?
"There are so many people who helped me get to where I'm at, whether it is the university coaches or high school coaches. I am sure there are a lot of people who want to see it."

How excited are you to finally be a member of this team?
"I was extremely excited. This has been a dream of mine since I was little, so when I got that phone call from Renee Brown, the chairperson of the USA Basketball Committee, it was one of the highlights of my athletic career."

How do different styles and talents come together? Is it a difficult process?
Our veteran core group has been together for a long time, been involved in previous Olympics, so that will help a lot. The talent level is high and there are a lot of unselfish players who are willing to do what it takes to win it all. Chemistry will come pretty quickly."

How confident are you that the U.S. will win it all?
"It will be a battle over there, but I am confident that our team will win the gold medal. Other countries have been preparing for us since the last Olympics. Some of the most talented teams are Russia, Australia, Brazil. As we have learned with the men, it all depends. On any given night, anything can happen."


Game on Game
Tamika Catchings, U.S. teammate:
"Ruth brings a totally new dimension. She has a soft touch and can guard against physical post players."

Swin Cash, U.S. teammate:
"Ruth will bring a great work ethic as well as her ability to fit into whatever role the team needs. She has always dreamed about this and this is what she wanted."

Yolanda Griffith, U.S. teammate:
"She is a big body that we need overseas. They are stacked from the guard to the center. She is a big player that can shoot from the outside and will give us a good inside presence. Adding Ruth was a good idea."

Katie Smith, U.S. teammate:
"She is steady. We need another big body down there and she is a good passer."

USA Basketball Statistics
TEAM
G/S
FGM-FGA
PCT
3PM-3PA
PCT
FTM-FTA
PCT
RPG
PPG
AST
BLK
STL
2004 WNT
8/2
15- 34
.441
0- 1
.000
9- 11
.818
3.5
4.9
3
4
10
2002 WNT
1/0
0- 4
.000
0- 0
.---
0- 0
.---
1.0
0.0
0
1
1
1999 WUG
6/4
23- 37
.622
0- 0
.---
16- 22
.727
5.2
10.3
0
4
3

Previous:
Shannon Johnson, USA
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

E-mail this story

More »

Video

USA vs. Canada

Team USA toppled Canada, 71-56, on Monday night in Bridgeport, Conn. Nneka Ogwumike was the team's leading scorer with 10 points.

Quigley with the SWEET Crossover move!

Check out Allie Quigley with the double crossover move to get to the hoop during Game 3 WNBA Finals!

Taurasi hits the Go-Ahead AND1 to WIN the WNBA Finals!

Check out Diana Taurasi hitting the biggest shot of the series to put the Mercury ahead for good in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

WNBA Spotlight Presented by Boost Mobile: Episode 12

This week, the WNBA Spotlight shines on Sylvia Fowles of the Chicago Sky.

2014 WNBA Finals – Game 3 Minimovie

An all-access look at the thrilling conclusion to the WNBA Finals – a back and forth classic that crowned the Phoenix Mercury the 2014 champions