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Sparks at USA Basketball Training Camp

The USA Basketball Women's National Team conducted its training camp this past weekend, Oct. 4-6, in Las Vesas, NV. Candace Parker, Lindsey Harding, Nneka Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender represented the Sparks among the 27 participants that included many Olympic gold medalist and WNBA All-Stars.

Sparks center Jantel Lavender

On the overall experience of participating in the USA National Team training camp:
"It was fun. I had a good time. Obviously its great competition because its the best players in the WNBA and in college, too. Im sore. It was a good workout. Like it said, it was fun."

What did you get out of the weekend?
"Great competition. Being able to play with great guards, people who can shoot the ball. You kick it out and nine times out of 10, its going in the basket. Its just fun playing with the best players, being able to do everything, having the right cutters. Its just great basketball, and its fun to play like that."

What was it like being coached by Geno Auriemma?
"Hes good. Hes intense in kind of a quiet way. You respect everything he says. He says it one time, and you just take it and do it. I like coaches who expect the best out of you. Thats how you want to play for those types of coaches  you dont want to slack off or do anything less than the best because you know his expectations are really high. He makes everybody want to play at the highest level they can play at."

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike

How have the last two days gone for you?
"Its great. Its a privilege to be invited to this. Im really excited to be able to see some of my former USA Basketball teammates, some of my LA Sparks teammates, some Stanford teammates, and even people Ive played against. Its always good to collaborate and work together with an amazing coach and the best players who are playing right now."

What have you been doing to make yourself standout?
"Just do what I do, mostly just try to play as hard as I can. I just try to play every possession as hard as I can. I dont want to have any regrets when I step off the court. I want to say that I gave it all I could and I learn with everything; I know that I dont do everything perfect, but I want them to know that Im playing hard and going out there and doing whatever a team player needs to do."

After playing against Geno Auriemma in college, whats it like now being coached by him?
"Its great. To play under a coach who obviously coaches a team that youve had such a serious rivalry with over the years is great. Hes very accomplished, very decorated as a coach and its an honor to be able to play under him. He knows what hes doing and he makes us feel comfortable out there, he makes me feel comfortable out there at least, but Im sure Im speaking for everybody else also. I learn a lot when hes out there. He doesnt confuse anyone, which is great. Its definitely very exciting to be able to play under him."

Sparks forward/center Candace Parker

How have the last two days been?
"Its been good. A lot of people have showed what theyre capable of. A lot of people have come here and surprised some people. Obviously we have a lot of new faces, a lot of young talent. Overall, these last two days have been great."

Who surprised you or stood out?
"There have been a lot of young players. Kayla McBride, shes played extremely well. Shes knocking down the shot. I didnt realize how strong and how much of a pro body she has already. Obviously (Breanna) Stewart has played amazing. Those are two of the young players that have really stood out."

As someone who came out and played with the USA National Team while still in college, how important is it for these college athletes to be out here and gain this kind of experience?
"I think its great for young guys to get out, get this experience and be able to play at the highest level with the national team. Its a lot of fun because this is what you dream of doing, ever since you were younger, its to come out and play with the senior national team, try to get on the Olympic team and win a gold medal."

Today marks one year before the 2014 FIBA World Championship gold medal game. How important would it be for you to be playing for that 365 days from now?
"It would definitely mean a lot. Thats one of the things I havent done yet, havent been able to do yet. We fell short in 2006 and then I was hurt in 2010, so Im excited and working hard to hopefully achieve that."

For a full recap and more quotes from USA Basketball, click here.