COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Headlined by three returning members of the gold-medal winning 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team, USA Basketball today following four days of trials announced the 12-member team that will represent the red, white and blue as it attempts to capture its fifth-straight gold medal at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevė×ys. Held May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USA U19 trials featured 33 athletes age 19-years-old and younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994). The team was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee, chaired by UT Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster.
At the most recent biennial U19 tournament in 2011 the U.S. extended its golden U19 streak to four-straight behind the play of Alexis Jones (Duke / Irving, Texas); FIBA U19 All-Tournament Team selection Breanna Stewart(Connecticut / North Syracuse, N.Y.), who was later named the 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year; and Morgan Tuck (Connecticut / Bolingbrook, Ill.), all three of whom return this summer and list as the only U.S. athletes to ever repeat on a USA U19 squad.
A total of eight previous USA Basketball gold medalists were named to the team, including Candice Agee(Penn State / Victorville, Calif.); Bashaara Graves (Tennessee / Clarksville, Tenn.); Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut / Glenn Heights, Texas); and Brianna Turner(Manvel H.S. / Pearland, Texas).
The 2013 U19 team also features a talented blend of newcomers in Nia Coffey (Hopkins H.S. / Minneapolis, Minn.); Gabby Green (St. Mary’s College H.S. / Oakland, Calif.); Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day / Poway, Calif.); and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S / Hopkins, S.C.).
“We were able to pick a U19 team that has a lot of strengths in a lot of different areas,” said Foster. “I think that bodes well for them. They have good size. They have some people who can put the ball in the basket. They’re athletic, and I think they can be good defensively. It’s a team that has a lot of potential to be very successful.
“The team has some players whose skill set is a little different than their position. Breanna Stewart, A’Ja Wilson and Brianna Turner are all 6’3” or above and are equally as comfortable putting the ball on the floor after they get a rebound and starting a fast break on their own. It’s an interesting dimension, and it makes the team that much more versatile because you could actually play some of them at wing positions and have a very, very big team on the floor. It makes for a lot of versatility.”
“I’m thrilled. The length is incredible, the talent, the diversity,” saidUSA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier following the team announcement. “Everybody brings a little something different. That gives us a lot of choices as coaches in a lot of different ways that we can win basketball games. (The committee) put together what I think is the team that answers any type of a question. We have speed. We have quickness. We have size. We have shooters. They really made sure that they gave us every weapon.”
Stewart is the most experienced USA Basketball athlete on the team. The MVP of the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, she has helped USA squads earn gold at the 2010 U17 and 2011 U19 FIBA World Championships, as well as the 2009 U16 and 2012 U18 FIBA Americas Championships. Further, Stewart was the lone high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team.
In addition to Stewart; Agee, Bashaara Graves, Jefferson and Tuck were members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship to secure a berth to this summer’s competition.
Also winning gold for the USA in 2012 were Harper and Turner as members of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team; while Turner earned a second gold medal last summer at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
Harper helped the U.S. win gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and competed later that summer in the inaugural FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship. After falling to Italy in overtime of the semifinal with just two healthy players on the court and being forced to forfeit in the bronze medal game due to a lack of players, the U.S. was awarded an honorary bronze medal by FIBA.
In 2010 Bashaara Graves, Stewart and Tuck were members of the gold medal-winning USA U17 World Championship Team; while Jones captured gold that summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Bashaara Graves and Stewart earned their first gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
In addition to the eight gold medalists on the team, three athletes have participated in a USA Basketball trials previously, including Coffey, Green and Plum; while Wilson, the youngest team member, is new to USA Basketball this year.
Assisting Meier and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University.
The USA will regroup for training on July 1 at the USOTC prior to traveling to Europe for a July 11-14 Spain-hosted tournament in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Featuring U19 squads from Australia, Canada and Spain, the tournament will be good test for the U.S. From there, the American women will travel to Lithuania in an attempt to defend gold.
The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19-years-old or younger. While Lithuania earned an automatic berth to the tournament as host, the remaining 15 nations were determined by the five FIBA zone qualifiers in 2012. In addition to the U.S., nations qualified out of the FIBA Americas zone include Brazil (silver medalist), Argentina (bronze medalist) and Canada (fourth place). Senegal (gold medalist) and Mali (silver medalist) will represent FIBA Africa; advancing from FIBA Asia are China (gold medalist), Japan (silver medalist) and South Korea (bronze medalist); Australia took FIBA Oceania’s spot after wining the best-of-three series against New Zealand; while FIBA Europe will be represented by France (gold medalist), Russia (silver medalist), Serbia (bronze medalist), Netherlands (fourth place) and Spain (fifth place).
Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panevė×ys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.
The top three finishing teams from each first-round group will advance to the second round, held July 22-24. The 12 nations qualifying for the second round will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with all results of games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second-round standings.
Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the second round will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. The medal round will be played in Klaipeda, with the quarterfinals held on July 26, semifinals slated for July 27 and the gold medal game on July 28.
In addition to Foster, the 2013-14 USA Basketball includes NCAA appointees Melanie Balcomb (head coach, Vanderbilt University), Lindsay Gottlieb (head coach, University of California) and Joi Williams (head coach, UCF), as well as athlete representative Kara Lawson, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist who has played on nine USA Basketball teams.
FIBA U19 World Championship History
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2006 and now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year. USA women’s teams are 57-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fourth-consecutive gold with an 8-1 record most recently in 2011.
Numerous top athletes have represented the United States at the U19s, including Alana Beard (2001); Essence Carson (2005); Tamika Catchings (1997); Crystal Langhorne (2005); Jantel Lavender (2007); Lisa Leslie(1989); Rebecca Lobo (1993); Maya Moore (2007); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009); Vickie Orr (1985);Courtney Paris (2005); Cappie Pondexter (2001); Katie Smith (1993); Dawn Staley (1989); Breanna Stewart (2011); Diana Taurasi (2001); Abby Waner (2005); and Candice Wiggins (2005). Additionally, eight athletes from the first seven USA U19 squads have advanced to compete in the Olympic Games, including Catchings, Leslie, Lobo, Moore, Pondexter, Smith, Staley and Taurasi.
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men’s and women’s 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 basketball competitions, as well as for some national competitions.
USA teams are the current men's and women's champions in the Olympics, men’s and women’s FIBA World Championships; women’s FIBA U19 World Champions; men's and women's FIBA U17 World Champions; and the men's and women's U18 and U16 FIBA Americas champions; as well as winners of the women’s FIBA 3X3 World Championship and 3x3 U18 World Championship.
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