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.

Katie Smith, United States
By Matt Wurst, WNBA.com
The Basics

Country United States
Hometown Logan, OH
WNBA Team Minnesota Lynx
Position Guard
Height 5-11
Weight 173 lbs.
Birthday June 4, 1974
Olympic exp. 2000
Any conversation about the best players in the world over the past decade would be incomplete without mention of Lynx guard Katie Smith.

After all, you don't entrench yourself as the starting shooting guard on the U.S. National Team without serious game. Yet, this gold medal winner at the 2000 Olympics, 2002 and 1998 FIBA World Championships, the 1999 U.S. Olympic Cup, the 1996 R. William Jones Cup and the 1994 Goodwill Games remains one of the less visible superstar athletes around the world.

A graduate of The Ohio State University (where she also serves as a coach in the offseason), Smith was allocated to the expansion Minnesota Lynx prior to the 1999 WNBA Draft after winning two ABL titles in Columbus and immediately became one of the league's most potent scorers. In just over four seasons, she already ranks fourth on the WNBA's all-time scoring charts and is the all-time leading scorer in U.S. women's professional basketball history.

Smith was named a WNBA All-Star and All-WNBA in each of her first four seasons. In 2001, she set seven single-season WNBA records: points (739), scoring average (23.1 ppg), free throws made (246), free throws attempted (275), three-point field goals attempted (240), minutes played (1,234) and average minutes (38.6 mpg). Not bad for a kid who wanted, and still wants, to be a dentist.

Along with forward Tina Thompson, Smith was the only American player to start in all 13 games during the spring exhibition tour. In those games, she averaged 7.8 points per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and shot 45.2% from the field. Smith, who turned 30 earlier this summer, was officially named to the current U.S. National Team on October 8, 2003.

Smith will be going to her second Olympics
(Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images)
Up close and Personal
What is your favorite Olympic sport other than basketball?
"Track and Field."

Any particular athletes you are looking forward to meeting?
"Michael Phelps"

Do you have a favorite Olympic memory growing up? Who was your favorite?
My favorite memories were of the '96 Olympics. I was able to try out for the team and somehow be a part of it. It was fun watching the team and following them through the games in Atlanta. My favorite Olympic athlete is Jackie Joyner."

How difficult is it for very different players from different WNBA teams to come together like this?
"With this team, from the veteran players to some of the younger team members, we have a comfort and a confidence that everyone will do what they will need to do win – defense, hit a big shot, cheering from the bench… everyone on this team is willing to make the sacrifices necessary and do whatever it is that needs to be done. We have been around all throughout each other’s careers, whether it is playing against someone in college, in other Leagues, on past US teams, It’s all so much fun because you respect everyone’s ability and then when you meet them in this type of environment and get to know them a little bit. Everyone is good people. When they choose members of the team, they believe that personality is as big as playing and ability. No one ever really has an issue with anyone, and Coach Chancellor obviously makes that even easier with the way he is."

How will this Games compare to the 2000 Games for you, both on-court and off-court?
"On the court there will be more pressure on us to defend our title. There is better talent and competition and other teams are more confident now. The timing of the games is also difficult because it comes during our WNBA season -- people may come in tired or hurt and we'll just have to fight through it.
Off the court, Sydney and Athens are two entirely different cities. Our housing, environment and all the other things off the court will be different for us. In Greece it will also be more challenging to get around and do things. Places and things are more spaced out; in Sydney everything was more compact and it was easy to get places. And of course, there will probably be a lot more security."

What are you most looking forward to about Athens and the entire event?
"My mom and dad are going to be there, so I'm looking forward to spending time with them. Besides that, I just want to soak it all up -- the historical sights, the culture and the overall atmosphere. But of course the whole trip won't be too much fun if we aren't winning, so we have to make sure we take care of business on the court first!"

Are other countries catching up to the U.S. on the international stage?
"One-on-one, I think we have the best individual talent, but a lot of teams on the whole are catching up to us. I expect Russia and Australia to do very well. They have a lot of great players and you can see their improved talent in the WNBA."

How confident are you that the U.S. will win it all?
"I'm very confident that we will win a gold medal, but I don't take that for granted. It's not going to be easy. We have all the tools to win it all, so we need to stay focused and play our best. We have to stay confident but not get cocky."

Are you at all worried about the effect that the global situation might have on the game?
"I think things will be alright. In the end, everything will get done."

Game on Game
Tina Thompson, U.S. teammate:
"A shooter…when Katie Smith shoots the ball, her jumper is pure. And she’s really tough. A lot of times she’s guarding forwards and post players, and then she can turn right around and play point guard. So her toughness and versatility is awesome."

DeLisha Milton-Jones, U.S. teammate:
"When I think of Katie Smith, I think of a rottweiler. She is stout and stealthy and feisty. She will beat you down and beat you up and just flat-out beat you.."

Tamika Catchings, U.S. teammate:
"a great offensive player, can shoot from anywhere and create her own shots. She is so hard to defend because she is both so strong and so smart on the court."

Lisa Leslie, U.S. teammate:
"She is FEISTY!"

Svetlana Abrosimova, Team Russia forward and Lynx teammate:
"One of strongest guards in world and best defender in the world. She can take anyone off the dribble or jumper and she can defend anyone."

Yolanda Griffith, U.S. teammate:
"She has a deadly shot."

USA Basketball Statistics
TEAM
G/S
FGM-FGA
PCT
3PM-3PA
PCT
FTM-FTA
PCT
RPG
PPG
AST
BLK
STL
2004 WNT
13/13
34-84
.452
15-39
.385
11-13
.846
3.2
7.8
8
7
11
2002 WC
9/9
20- 55
.364
12- 35
.343
2- 2
1.000
3.0
6.0
15
0
7
2002 WCP
4/4
8- 25
.320
2- 9
.222
4- 5
.800
2.8
5.5
4
1
2
2002 WNT
1/ 0
3- 6
.500
2- 2
1.000
3- 4
.750
1.0
11.0
3
0
2
2000 OLY
8/ 0
20- 39
.513
12- 20
.600
2- 3
.667
0.6
6.8
9
1
4
99-00 WNT
40/31
134- 281
.477
50- 115
.435
39- 46
.848
1.7
8.9
59
4
31
1998 WC
9/9
30- 75
.400
8- 24
.333
16- 22
.727
2.8
9.3
7
3
10
1998 WCP
13/ 2
37- 68
.544
7- 18
.389
24- 31
.774
1.9
8.1
15
3
10
1998 WNT
5/ 5
19- 44
.432
7- 11
.636
16- 21
.762
3.2
12.2
2
2
6
1997 WNT
4/ 1
4- 12
.333
0- 2
.000
6- 8
.750
1.3
3.5
7
0
0
1997 WCQ
4/ -
8- 19
.421
0- 0
.---
3- 3
1.000
3.2
3.8
1
10
2
1997 WCQP
13/ 0
19- 30
.633
3- 5
.600
19- 25
.760
1.3
5.0
8
0
5

Previous:
Lauren Jackson, Australia
Lisa Leslie, USA
Tamika Catchings, USA
Swin Cash, USA

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