Twenty-two of the USA’s top, professional women’s basketball players are expected to participate in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp, scheduled for Feb. 9-11, 2018, at the University of South Carolina. Included on the list are 16 members of the 2017-20 USA National Team and an additional six athletes who were invited to participate by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee in hopes of being named to the USA National Team pool.
The USA will train at 10 a.m. (EST) on Feb. 9-10 and 9 a.m. (EST) on Feb. 11 at the Carolina Coliseum.
“I’m excited any time that we can get together with USA Basketball and have a training camp that assembles some of the best players in the country,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “It’s always a great thing. It gets your basketball wheels moving. It’s less than two weeks away, and all of Columbia is excited to have our USA Basketball training camp here.”
“It is always good to have our athletes together during our training camps and we are appreciative of their efforts to attend given the length of travel and busy schedules. Preparation for the World Cup is critical to our success. Another goal of our committee is to always have a pool that is fluid, and we will continue to evaluate players for possible inclusion on the USA National Team roster,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. “While the committee has seen these six hopefuls in the WNBA and previously in college, it’s important to see athletes in a USA National Team setting before we add anyone to the pool.”
The minicamp will feature 16 members of the 2018-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool, including Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Tina Charles (New York Liberty); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx); Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks); Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun); and Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun).
Attending the camp as USA National Team hopefuls are: Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings); Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks); Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever); Brittney Sykes (Atlanta Dream); Sydney Wiese (Los Angeles Sparks); and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
Members of the USA National Team pool who are unavailable to participate in the February camp are: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx); Napheesa Collier (University of Connecticut); Asia Durr(University of Louisville); Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks); Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State University); Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun); Katie Lou Samuelson(University of Connecticut); Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks); and A’ja Wilson (University of South Carolina).
Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) currently are competing in China, and their inclusion on the training camp roster will depend on their respective teams’ run in the WCBA playoffs.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx), a member of the past two U.S. Olympic (2012, 2016) and USA World Cup (2010, 2014) gold-medal winning teams, was named to the 2017-20 USA National Team last fall. However, she has since retired from USA Basketball. Whalen donned her first USA Basketball uniform in 2002 and has claimed a total of six gold medals while helping USA Basketball teams compile a 66-3 overall record, including exhibition play.
“I’ve cherished all of my time with USA Basketball since I was 20,” said Whalen. “This was a very tough decision, but I feel like it’s time in my career to step aside and give another young player the opportunity. I started with USA Basketball in Brazil, so finishing at the Olympics back in Brazil seems like I’ve come full circle. It was definitely a tough decision given the gold medal culture that Carol (Callan) and Dawn (Staley) and Geno (Auriemma) and everyone else has created, it’s the best to be in that. Because not only is it amazing on the court, but everybody truly cares for each other off the court. You become a family for that month, month-and-a-half that you’re together. I’m certainly going to miss that, but I’ll always enjoy my memories with USA Basketball as a player.”
“Lindsay Whalen is probably my favorite point guard of all time, and that’s nothing against Sue Bird. But, Lindsay, I like her swag; I like her toughness; I like her mindset,” Staley said. “She’s always thinking about ways in which to out-fox the opponent. I’m just sad that I don’t get an opportunity to coach her in this capacity, but I’m glad that I got a chance to coach her when I was an assistant coach on the 2014 and 2016 USA teams.”
“Lindsay is the consummate USA National Team player and teammate,” said Callan. “We appreciate everything she has done for USA Basketball. Her work ethic and contributions to the USA National Team culture are immeasurable. She joins a long list of USA Basketball alumni responsible for our continued success. We know that she will continue to contribute to women’s basketball in many ways and wish her the best.”
Assisting Staley during the three-day camp will be Los Angeles Sparks head coach Brian Agler; Seattle Storm head coach Dan Hughes; and Minnesota Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, who was an assistant alongside Staley during the 2014 FIBA World Cup and 2016 Olympic gold medal campaigns.
It is expected that the official, 12-member 2018 USA World Cup and 2020 U.S. Olympic teams, should the USA qualify to compete in Tokyo, will be comprised of players from the 2017-20 USA National Team.
USA Basketball Women’s National Team
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2018 FIBA World Cup (Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain) and, if the USA qualifies, the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.
The U.S. and Staley first will look to capture the title at the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup of Basketball, with an automatic berth to the 2020 Olympic Games being awarded to the gold medalist. Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in 2018, it would have two additional opportunities to qualify for the Olympics: the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup (dates and site TBD) and the 2020 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
In addition to Callan, the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.
FIBA World Cup of Basketball
The USA owns a record nine gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Cup play, while compiling an all-time 103-21 record at the event. In 2014, the most recent World Cup, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Australia won bronze.
Automatically qualified for two of the 16 World Cup slots are host Spain and the USA as defending Olympic champion.
Qualified from the Africa Zone are Nigeria and Senegal; Australia, China, Japan and South Korea qualified out of Asia; Argentina, Canada and Puerto Rico qualified out of the Americas; while Belgium, France, Greece, Latvia and Turkey qualified out of Europe.
The 18th FIBA World Cup format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play with four groups comprised of four teams each. Following the preliminary round, the first-place team in each group will advance directly to the quarterfinals, while the second- and third-place teams in each group will compete in quarterfinal play-in games. Quarterfinals winners will advance to the semifinals, and the gold medal game will be played on Sept. 30.