2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Selected
-- Squad Includes Mix Of Veterans, Newcomers --
Colorado Springs, Colo. • May 21, 2012
Following five trials sessions held May 19-21 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., the 12-player 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee.
The 12-member squad includes 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.) and previous USA gold medalists Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S. / Clarksville, Tenn.); Imani Stafford (Winward School / Los Angeles, Calif.); Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./ Bolingbrook, Ill.); and Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. / Randallstown, Md.). The team also features three-time trials participant Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Association / Glenn Heights, Texas); two-time trials participant Alexis Prince (Edgewater / Orlando, Fla.); 2010 USA U16 National Team trials participants Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony H.S. / Carson, Calif.) and Allisha Gray (Washington County H.S / Sandersville, Ga.); and USA Basketball newcomers Lexie Brown (North Gwinnett H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.); Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Belmar, N.J.) and Brittney Sykes (University H.S. / Newark, N.J.).
Three USA U18 team members, Cooper, Gray and Tucker, were added to the U18 trials roster on Sunday morning after beginning the weekend competing in the USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team Trials.
“It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court,” said committee chair Sue Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. “It’s not so much about taking the 12 best players, it’s taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials some players stepped forward, some players stepped back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S.
“I think this team is strong in many facets. I think we will be very strong on the perimeter – we’ve got kids that can pull-up and shoot the jumper and kids that can put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. We are going to be strong in the paint. Really, I think we’ve put together a blend of kids that have multitude of talents. Very athletic, very court savvy and certainly in international play, that will be very helpful to us.”
“I love it. I think it’s an unbelievable roster with great balance,” said USA U18 National Team and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. “The committee did a fantastic job of really thinking through situations, scenarios and needs for an international game. What a great group of kids. I’m fired up.
“I think one thing that’s going to be great is the swing position. We’ve got nice length in the swing position, the three-fours are real long; we’ve got some great shooters. Then, some physicality in the post, with some point guards who push the tempo. So, it’s a dream roster for me. I’m really, really thrilled.”
Collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University will act as assistant coaches for the U18 team.
The team will regroup at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., for its first training camp from May 28-June 1. The USA squad will then return to the USOTC for its final training camp Aug. 4-12, prior to traveling to Puerto Rico for the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
The U18 Championship, held in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19, will see the three medal-winning teams secure a berth in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. The 2013 U19 Worlds will be hosted by Lithuania, July 18-28. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Players eligible for this competition must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994.
The U.S. was drawn into Group A, along with Argentina, Columbia and the Dominican Republic; while Group B consists of Brazil, Canada, Mexico and host Puerto Rico. The USA will open play against the Dominicans on Aug. 15, followed by Argentina on Aug. 16 and close out preliminary play against Columbia on Aug. 17. The top two finishing teams from each group advance to the Aug. 18 medal semifinals, and the finals will be contested Aug. 19. The three medal-winning teams will qualify for the 2013 FIBA U19 Worlds.
The only high school athlete on the 2011 USA Women’s Pan American Games Team, Stewart is the most internationally experienced player on the squad. The unanimous 2012 National High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year teamed up last summer with Tuck to help lead the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team to a gold medal in Chile. Stafford was also named to the USA U19 squad following its exhibition game against Brazil, however, she withdrew from the team due to injury. In 2010 Bashaara Graves, Stafford, Stewart, and Tuck were members of the USA U17 World Championship Team that captured the gold medal with a perfect 8-0 mark at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship; Tucker won a gold medal with the 2010 USA U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship; while in 2009 Bashaara Graves and Stewart were on the USA U16 National Team that won the gold medal and earned the USA’s berth to the 2010 U17 Worlds. Tuck was named to the 2009 USA U16 National Team, but was injured and withdrew.
Additionally, Jefferson was a finalist for the 2011 USA U19 team and also attended trials for the 2009 U16 and 2010 U17 teams. Also owning USA Basketball trials experience are Cooper (2010 U16), Gray (2010 U16), Bashaara Graves (2011 U19), Prince (2009 U16, 2010 U17), Tuck (2009 U16) and Williams (2009 U16).
In addition to USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee chair Donohoe, the selection committee includes NCAA appointees Joanne Boyle (University of Virginia), Coquese Washington (Penn State University) and Connie Yori (University of Nebraska). The athlete representative is current University of Notre Dame associate coach Beth Cunningham (1999 USA Pan American Games Team member).
FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women
Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament, the event was held every four years beginning in 1988. FIBA changed its calendar and the tournament is now conducted every other year, followed in the next summer by the FIBA U19 World Championship.
USA women’s teams boast of a remarkable 38-2 overall record in U18/Junior Qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996. In fact, the USA has not lost a game at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship since 1996 and is riding a 24-0 winning streak into this year’s competition.
Some of the athletes who have represented the U.S. in this event in the past include: Jayne Appel (2006); Alana Beard (2000); Kelsey Bone (2008); Tamika Catchings (1996); Marissa Coleman (2004); Skylar Diggins (2008); Sonja Henning (1988); Niesa Johnson (1992); Rebecca Lobo (1992); Maya Moore (2006); Chiney Ogwumike (2010); Nneka Ogwumike (2008); Candace Parker (2004); Courtney Paris (2004); Cappie Pondexter (2000); Nicole Powell (2000); Lynn Pride (1996); Diana Taurasi (2000); and Candice Wiggins (2004).