Trying out for the national team normally is an honor. But it’s a tryout PG Briann January hopes to miss. Her Indiana Fever dismissed Courtney Vandersloot’s Chicago Sky in the WNBA playoffs opening-round and are currently playing the Atlanta Dream in a best-of-three Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner gets a trip to the WNBA Finals and thus would be too busy to participate in the 2013 Women’s National Team mini-camp from Oct. 4-6 at the Cox Pavilion practice gym on the campus of UNLV in Las Vegas. A WNBA Finals run would be a second consecutive trip for January, who led the Fever to the 2012 league title. The Los Angeles Sparks are the last team to win back-to-back WNBA championships, doing so in 2001-02.
Vandersloot is making a return trip to the mini-camp. It’s designed to identify players for the USA National Team pool, from which the 2014 USA World Championship Team will be selected. Invitations to attend the training camp were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
Of course with Storm All-Star Sue Bird and Minnesota All-Star Lindsay Whalen still locks on the national team roster, there isn’t much room for the Washingtonian guards. January starred at Spokane’s Lewis & Clark HS while Vandersloot is of Kentwood HS fame.
Bird is rehabilitating from knee surgery in May. She said she’s going to attend the session but won’t participate. A three-time Olympian, Bird is cleared for full-contact practice and will begin that phase of her comeback with her Russian team this fall.
Whalen, a first-time Olympian in 2012, is busy leading Minnesota to the Western Conference Finals. Her Lynx are facing the Phoenix Mercury in a best-of-three Western Conference Finals.
Here’s more about the USA camp:
Thirty-three players accepted invitations to the WNT mini-camp.
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 Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Further, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), both of whom aided the USA to a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, are set to attend camp.
Rounding out the 33 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), Bria Hartley (University of Connecticut), 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), Vandersloot (Chicago Sky), Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars).
Athletes involved in the WNBA Finals will be unable to attend the training camp.
“The Committee did a great job of identifying players for this camp,” said Geno Auriemma, 2013-16 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “First, you have some who have helped us already win world championships and gold medals at the Olympics and those who certainly we need to take a look at to prepare for the future. Ideally you would love to have a team that is comprised of enough veteran leadership, enough young players with experience and enough young players who might be there for the first time. Within this group we have a mixture of all of those.
“I think what the Committee did, which I think is interesting, there are a lot of young WNBA players who are on the list, and with an eye toward the future there are players who have excelled at the college level already and who have also excelled at USA Basketball at a young age, who three years from now, four years from now, are going to be WNBA players. So, it’s great to get a head start to see where the future really lies. I think that’s one thing USA Basketball has always been great at, preparing for the future. This is another great example of that.”
The training camp marks the beginning of a new quadrennium for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which over the next four 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).
The USA National Team training camp roster features 32 athletes who have competed for USA Basketball internationally at some point in their career and 17 members of the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team: Appel, Augustus, Bird, Catchings, Charles, Dupree, Fowles, Griner, Harding, McCoughtry, Moore, Parker, Pondexter, Taurasi, Vandersloot, Whalen and Young.
The list of invitees 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.
Six of the collegiate athletes invited already 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; Hartley teamed up with Dolson in 2010 and 2011, and also captured gold medals at the 2012 FIBA 3×3 World Championship and 2013 World University Games; 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 training camp participant, but owns the most international experience. 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 and was named the 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.
Members of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee include USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director Carol Callan; WNBA appointees Reneé 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.