Los Angeles Sparks players Jantel Lavender, Nneka Ogwumike, and Odyssey Sims were selected to be part of the 2017-20 USA Basketball National Team Pool which will determine the 2018 USA World Cup Team. Joining them will be 13 Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup gold medalists as well as other standout WNBA players and collegiate athletes.
The 29 members of the 2017-20 USA National Team roster announced in December include: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx); Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Tina Charles (New York Liberty); Layshia Clarendon (Atlanta Dream); Napheesa Collier (Connecticut); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Asia Durr (Louisville); Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces); Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State); Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx); Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun); Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks); Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces); Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut); Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun); Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx); Courtney Williams (Connecticut Sun); and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina).
Additionally, in continuing its preparations for the 2018 FIBA World Cup of Basketball and future USA Basketball Women’s National Team events, available members of the USA pool will participate in a minicamp Feb. 9-11, 2018, at the University of South Carolina. It will mark the second camp under the direction of Dawn Staley, 2017-20 USA Basketball Women’s National Team and South Carolina head coach.
“I’m incredibly pleased with the pool of players that make up the 29 and the different experiences that they bring to the team,” said Staley, whose Gamecocks currently are 9-1 and ranked No. 4/5 nationally (as of 12/14/17). “I’m looking forward to putting my stamp on this training camp, because it’s new, it’s different. Yet, you can give the 29 members of the pool anything to run, and they’re going to make you look good. We just have to get together to form some chemistry. Many of us have been together and worked together, just not in this capacity. So, anytime we can get the USA National Team together and work for a few days, it’s only going to benefit us in the long run.
“Anytime you can assemble the best players in our country together in one place, it always is an incredible thing. I think USA Basketball has done a great job of making things convenient for everyone in bringing people together in a place in which, I think everyone who comes will be pleasantly surprised at what Columbia has to offer and what our university has to offer. It’s a tremendous time that will be spent wisely, and it’ll be enjoyable.”
“This is a very talented group, from four-time Olympians Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, to the younger players who are hoping to compete in their first USA National Team competition,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee. “As we looked toward the future, the committee first had to look at the past. We acknowledged that what has made the USA National Team program such a resounding success over the past two decades was the way our teams have seamlessly blended youth with veteran leadership. And because of that, we wanted to make sure we continued with that recipe in building a team. We can’t say enough about the veterans. We win simply because our best players want to play over and over again.
“We are happy to be able to take advantage of this time, and I want to thank the University of South Carolina for allowing us to train there in February. USA Basketball is blessed with an array of talent, but that means that our athletes are in demand around the world in many different professional leagues. But, that is also a challenge for us in that we need to be able to find small pockets of time to train in order to be fully prepared to defend the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain. We are hoping to be able to get together for another minicamp prior to the start of the WNBA season, where we will continue to prepare and hope to have even more athletes available. We appreciate everyone who is able to participate in our training camps as we feel it’s invaluable to everyone to become more familiar with Dawn’s style of coaching and continue to build on the team culture that has been one of the hallmarks of our success.”
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2017-20 USA National Team roster will be fluid. 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.
The USA will train at 10 a.m. (EST) daily Feb. 9-11 at the Carolina Coliseum, and the final roster of minicamp participants will be announced at a later date.
Collegiate members of the 2017-20 USA squad, Collier, Durr, Kelsey Mitchell, Samuelson and Wilson, as well as those competing professionally in Asia, which currently includes Fowles, Loyd and Stewart, will be unavailable to participate in the camp.
All 29 athletes possess prior USA Basketball international experience. Combined, the athletes own 100 gold medals, two silver medals and four bronze medals in official junior and senior level five-on-five competitions, as well as seven gold medals in international 3×3 events. The list of USA National Team members is underscored by a total of 25 Olympic and 19 FIBA World Cup gold medals.
- Eleven of the athletes are Olympic champions: Bird and Taurasi are four-time Olympic gold medalists; Augustus and Fowles have earned three Olympic golds apiece; Charles, McCoughtry, Moore and Whalen have captured two Olympic gold medals; while 2016 marked the first Olympic gold for Delle Donne, Griner and Stewart.
- Twelve have claimed FIBA World Cup gold: Bird lists as a four-time USA World Cup Team member and owns three gold medals and one bronze medal at the event; Taurasi has two gold medals and one bronze medal; Charles, McCoughtry, Moore and Whalen helped the USA capture the past two World Cup gold medals; Augustus has one gold medal and one bronze medal; Fowles earned gold in 2010; and Griner, Nneka Ogwumike, Sims and Stewart were members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that returned home with gold medals.
- Six USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year recipients: Augustus (2003), Charles (2009), Moore (2014), Stewart (2011, 2013), Taurasi (2006, 2010, 2012, 2016) and Wilson (2015).
- Six WNBA MVPs: Charles (2012), Delle Donne (2015), Fowles (2017), Moore (2014), Nneka Ogwumike (2016) and Taurasi (2009)
- Nineteen WNBA All-Stars: Augustus (7), Bird (10), Charles (5), Clarendon (1), Delle Donne (4), Diggins-Smith (3), Dolson (2), Fowles (4), Griner (4), Hayes (1), Lavender (1), McBride (1), McCoughtry (4), Moore (5), Chiney Ogwumike (1), Nneka Ogwumike (4), Stewart (1), Taurasi (8) and Whalen (5).
- Nine WNBA champions: Augustus (4), Bird (2), Fowles (2), Griner (1), Lavender (1), Moore (4), Nneka Ogwumike (1), Taurasi (3) and Whalen (4).
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.