Jayne Appel and Sophia Young Named U.S. Olympic Team Finalists

SAN ANTONIO San Antonio Silver Stars center Jayne Appel and forward Sophia Young have been named finalists for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today. The duo represents the Silver Stars among 21 USA Women's National Team members selected as finalists by the USA Women's Basketball Player Selection Committee.

Appel helped Team USA earn its London Olympic berth as a member of the 2010 USA World Championship Team which won gold with a perfect 9-0 record. Appel notched 14 points and 22 rebounds through eight World Championship contests. She has been a member of USA Basketball for six years, helping the U18 Women's National Team win gold at the U18 FIBA Americas championship in 2006 and earning a second international gold at the 2007 Pan-Am Games.

A 2010 WNBA All-Star, Appel played in 31 games for the Silver Stars last season, averaging 3.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest while leading the WNBA in defensive rebounds per 40 minutes (9.0).

"I am very honored to be included as a finalist for the Olympic Games," Appel said. "It is a list filled with tremendous talent that will represent the United States extremely well in London. It has always been a dream of mine to play on the Olympic team, so to be considered in one of the final lists is a step closer to that."

Young was named to the USA Basketball Women's National Team pool on Jan. 4, 2012, four months after gaining her U.S. citizenship. A native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Young has lived in the United States since she was 15 and was sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Sept. 2, 2011. She was invited to join USA Basketball on Sept. 26 for its five-game European Tour. She started all five of the USA's European exhibition games, averaging 8.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest.

A four-time WNBA All-Star and three time All-WNBA honoree, Young started 36 games for the Silver Stars in 2011, leading the team with 6.4 rebounds and 2.03 steals per game while ranking second with 13.2 points per contest.

"I'm extremely excited to be a U.S. Olympic Team finalist," Young said. "I've been blessed just to be a part of USA Basketball so far from playing on the European tour to being named to the national team pool. I'm grateful to be that much closer to having the opportunity to represent the U.S. in the Olympics."

Appel and Young join nine players who have won Olympic gold in the 21-player finalist pool, including Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Rebekkah Brunson (Minnesota Lynx), Swin Cash (Chicago Sky), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Baylor University), Lindsey Harding (Atlanta Dream), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).

"Now that we're down to 21 finalists, you look around and you see a group of players that have tremendous experience," 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma said. "(We have) players that have won (Olympic) gold medals, won World Championships, there are WNBA champions on the list, players that have won in Europe in international competition. You've got a group of players that have experienced everything there is to experience and as a coach, as someone who's been around these players, I couldn't be happier with this group. They represent the best of what the United States has to offer."

Four-time defending Olympic gold medalists, the U.S. will look to capture its fifth straight and seventh overall gold medal and extend its 33-game Olympic winning streak at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. The Olympic basketball competition will be held July 28-Aug. 12 in the Olympic Park Basketball Arena (preliminary round and quarterfinals) and North Greenwich Arena (semifinals and finals).
The Silver Stars open the 2012 season on May 19 at Tulsa before tipping off the home schedule against the Chicago Sky 30 at 7 p.m. Ticket plans for the 2012 season start at $180 and are available online at SASilverStars.com or by calling (210) 444-5090.