Charles, Lawson Named To USA Basketball Women's National Team Pool

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 13, 2014) Ė Including 14 Olympic and/or FIBA World Championship gold medalists, the 33-player 2014-16 USA Basketball Womenís National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team and, if the U.S. qualifies, the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team will be selected, was announced today. The USA National Team pool will be fluid, and athletes may be added at any time by the USA Basketball Womenís National Team Player Selection Committee.

Highlighting the returning veterans are three-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks); 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); and Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), who were members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Further, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), members of the 2010 USA World Championship Team that won gold, have been named to the pool.

Also named to the 2013-16 USA National Team roster were: DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (University of Connecticut), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Lindsey Harding (Los Angeles Sparks), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Glory Johnson (Tulsa Shock), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Kayla McBride (University of Notre Dame), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), Odyssey Sims (Baylor University), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Alyssa Thomas (University of Maryland), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).

ďI think the game has changed tremendously and we are fortunate that the pool is probably greater than itís ever been,Ē said Geno Auriemma, 2013-16 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. ďThe gap between those that have won gold medals and those that are still playing for the USA Basketball National Team and those that want to be part of it who are younger and have made a name for themselves is narrowing every year. Iím excited that we have so many great players to choose from.

ďItís always difficult when youíre trying to put together a team. It doesnít always come down to picking the 12 best players, putting them on the team and letís go. I think there are other factors that go into it, and hopefully the committee and the coaches can come up with a team that is capable of winning gold medals and represents the U.S. in the best possible manner. At the same time, part of the goal needs to include preparing for life after some of these great Olympians who have won multiple gold medals. I wish it was as simple as picking the leading scorers and leading rebounders or just picking the most famous players in the WNBA and letís go get Ďem! But itís a lot more complicated than that so it will be very difficult.Ē

The USA Basketball Womenís National Team over the next three years will compete in the 2014 FIBA World Championship (Sept. 27 - Oct. 5 in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey), and if the USA qualifies, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games (Aug. 5 - 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), as well as additional USA training camps and exhibition games.

Four prior USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honorees are listed on the roster, highlighted by three-time honoree Taurasi (2006, 2010, 2012), as well as Augustus (2003), Charles (2009) and Stewart (2011, 2013).

The USA National Team pool features 32 athletes who have competed for USA Basketball internationally during some point in their career and 18 members of the 2009-12 USA Basketball Womenís National Team: Appel, Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Charles, Dupree, Fowles, Griner, Harding, Lawson, McCoughtry, Moore, Parker, Pondexter, Taurasi, Vandersloot, Whalen and Young.

The pool includes 10 of the last 12 No. 1 picks in the WNBA Draft: Griner (2013), Ogwumike (2012), Moore (2011), Charles (2010), McCoughtry (2009), Parker (2008), Harding (2007), Augustus (2006), Taurasi (2004) and Bird (2002); 13 All-WNBA selections: Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Charles, Delle Donne, Fowles, McCoughtry, Moore, Parker, Pondexter, Taurasi, Whalen and Young; and 19 WNBA All-Stars: Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Charles, Delle Donne, Dupree, Fowles, Griner, Johnson, McCoughtry, Moore, Ogwumike, Parker, Pondexter, Robinson, Taurasi, Vandersloot, Whalen and Young.

Five of the six collegiate athletes boast impressive international credentials. Dolson, who was injured in 2013 and unable to try out for the USA World University Games Team, won gold medals at the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship; McBride was on the 2010 U18 squad; Mosqueda-Lewis won gold medals with four teams, including the 2009 USA U16 National, 2010 USA U17 World Championship, 2011 U19 World Championship and 2013 USA World University Games teams; Sims has a pair of gold medals from the 2011 and 2013 USA World University Games teams, earning World University Games co-MVP honors in 2013. While Stewart is the youngest on the roster, she owns the most international experience among the collegians. Stewart captured gold at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship, listed on the all-tournament team at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship after leading the U.S. to gold, earned gold and MVP honors at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and most recently was named tournament MVP after earning gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. Additionally, Stewart was the lone high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team. Members of the USA Basketball Womenís National Team Player Selection Committee include USA Basketball womenís national team director Carol Callan; WNBA appointees Reneť Brown, WNBA chief of basketball operations and player relations, Dan Hughes, San Antonio Silver Stars head coach and general manager, and Chris Sienko, Connecticut Sun vice president and general manager; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist Katie Smith, who played in nearly 200 games for USA Basketball from 1993-2008, and serves as the athlete representative.

FIBA World Championship
The FIBA World Championship has been contested essentially every four years since 1953, and the United States captured the first two gold medals before the Soviet domination of womenís basketball kicked-off at the 1959 World Championship. The former USSR put together a string of five straight golds (1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1975), before the United States reclaimed gold in 1979. The Soviet Union in 1983 earned its final FIBA World Championship crown as the USA went on to capture five of the next six World Championship titles (1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2010). The only other nations to break into the gold medal column at this event are Australia in 2006, and Brazil, which defeated the USA in the 1994 semifinals and went on to take first that year.

The USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 97-21 record at the event. In 2010, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. finished with a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal.

The 16 nations qualified for the 2014 World Championship are host Turkey, which also claimed bronze in the 2013 FIBA Europe Championship; the United States, which earned its berth by claiming the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games; as well as Angola (gold medalist) and Mozambique (silver medalist) from FIBA Africa; Cuba (gold medalist), Canada (silver medalist) and Brazil (bronze medalist) from FIBA Americas; Japan (gold medalist), South Korea (silver medalist) and China (bronze medalist) from FIBA Asia; Spain (gold medalist), France (silver medalist), Serbia (fourth place), Belarus (fifth place) and Czech Republic (sixth place) from FIBA Europe; and Australia (gold medalist) from FIBA Oceania.

The 17th FIBA World Championship format will feature a round-robin competition in preliminary round play with four groups comprised of four teams each. The top finishing teams from each preliminary group advance to the Oct. 3 quarterfinals, while the second- and third-place teams from the preliminary round will compete in the elimination round for the right to play in the quarterfinals. The winners of the quarterfinal games will compete in the Oct. 4 medal semifinals, and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested Oct. 5.

USA Basketball
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball, chaired by Jerry Colangelo, is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for menís and womenís basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA sponsored international competitions, as well as for some national competitions. During the 2009-12 quadrennium, 1,273 men and women players and 235 coaches participated in USA Basketball, including USA Basketball teams and trials, and USA Basketball 3x3 FIBA championships.

USA Basketball menís and womenís teams between 2009-12 compiled an impressive 264-35 win-loss record in FIBA and FIBA Americas competitions, the Pan American Games, the World University Games, the Nike Hoop Summit and in exhibition games. USA teams are the current menís and womenís champions in the Olympics; menís and womenís FIBA World Championships (Basketball World Cup); menís and womenís FIBA U19 and U17 World Championships; menís and womenís U18 and U16 FIBA Americas Championships; the FIBA 3x3 Womenís World Championship and the FIBA 3x3 Womenís U18 World Championship. USA Basketball also currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBAís world ranking categories, including combined, menís, womenís, boys and girls. USA Basketball also currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBAís world-ranking categories, including combined, menís, womenís, boys and girls.

For further information about USA Basketball, go to the official Web site of USA Basketball at www.usab.com and connect on www.facebook.com/usabasketball, https://twitter.com/usabasketball, http://www.plus.google.com/+usabasketball and http://www.youtube.com/usab.

Tina Charles, Connecticut Sun
There is a lot of talent coming up through the USA Basketball pipeline, especially the six collegiate athletes who were in Las Vegas, all of whom were named to the pool. As someone who is just four years removed from being named to the USA National Team as a college athlete, what did you see from them in Vegas that would make the committee feel they're ready to be in the USA National Team pool?
"Those collegiate athletes showed a lot of heart. They were very attentive to detail as to what coach Auriemma and the rest of the staff expected from them. During play, they competed every possession and were eager to learn. For USA Basketball your role changes and you have to find that one thing that separates you from the rest. They all competed to do just that."

How difficult of a decision will it be for the committee to pare the list down to 12 for the eventual 2014 USA World Championship Team?
"It will be extremely difficult. As athletes, itís our job to make it difficult. Every year a player adds something to their game to make themselves better. It is noticeable every training camp. But the committee always does a great job finding the right pieces to bring home a victory."

Kara Lawson, Connecticut Sun
What would it mean for you to be able to earn a spot on the 2014 USA World Championship Team, especially after coming so close four years ago?
"At any point in your career if you have the opportunity to play with the USA National Team is a special honor. I love competing with and being a part of the best collection of players in the world."

How difficult of a decision will it be for the committee to pare the list down to 12 for the eventual 2014 squad?
"USA Basketball is a dominant force because of the depth of talent. Players at this level are addicted to improving and reaching their potential. It gives the powers that be a lot of options."