COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A total of 12 athletes with prior USA Basketball experience, including three gold medalists, highlight the list of 28 of the nation’s top 18-and-unders who accepted invitations to participate in the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials, USA Basketball announced today. Three Bruins have accepted invitations, including gold medalist Receé Caldwell (Homeschooled / San Antonio, Texas), Monique Billings (Santiago H.S. / Corona, Calif.) and Lajahna Drummer (Long Beach Poly H.S. / Inglewood, Calif.).
The trials, scheduled to be held May 24-26 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be used to select the 12-member team that will compete in the USA Basketball-hosted 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship at the USOTC from Aug. 6-10. Invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by University of Tennessee at Chatanooga head coach Jim Foster.
“I think we have a group of players that will allow us to choose a very representative team for this qualifying tournament,” Foster said. “Anytime you can combine a team that has players who have won a gold medal and players who aspire to do so, it’s a good combination in terms of preparing for the future. You’re always adding to the mix and creating new opportunities for young players to advance and have opportunities to win gold medals and potentially continue to become Olympians.”
Athletes invited to participate in the USA U17 National Team Trials are also eligible for selection to the USA U18 National Team and may be asked to contend to be a part of the 12-member roster.
The six trials sessions will be held in Sports Center 1, with two sessions on May 24, starting at 11:00 a.m. (all times are MDT) and 4 p.m. The May 25 sessions tip-off at 10:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; while on May 26, trials will begin at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., followed by the U18 team announcement that evening.
The 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, including: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.
Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 1996.
“Looking at the list of players who will be at the trials makes me so happy that I am not on the committee,” said Dawn Staley, USA U18 National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “To be able to get this group of talented players down to 12 and maybe three alternates is going to be a challenge in itself. I hope I can play a small role of putting all the players in a position to play their best basketball and to give the committee a hard challenge to get this group down to just 12.
“I’m looking forward to working with some of the best talent in our country. They’re young. They’re driven. They are talented. They are hopefully future Olympians who we can help grow in USA Basketball at the international level to where one day they can live out some dreams that I’ve lived out in becoming an Olympian. It all starts with these younger teams.”
Joining the three Bruins on the list of invitees are USA Basketball gold medalists Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S / Pearland, Texas) and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S. / Hopkins, S.C.).
Also scheduled to attend the USA U18 National Team Trials are: Lyneé Belton (The Bullis School / Clinton, Md.); Sierra Calhoun (Christ the King H.S. / Brooklyn, N.Y.); Batouly Camara (Blair Academy / New York, N.Y.); Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy / O’Fallon, Mo.); Mikayla Cowling (St. Mary’s College H.S. / Benicia, Calif.); Sophie Cunningham (Rock Bridge H.S. / Columbia, Mo.); Kortney Dunbar (Edwardsville H.S. / Edwardsville, Ill.); Katelynn Flaherty (Metuchen H.S. / Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.); Jamasha ‘Meme’ Jackson (Blackman H.S. / Murfreesboro, Tenn.); Jazmine Jones (Florida A&M H.S. / Tallahassee, Fla.); Moné Jones (Riverside H.S. / Durham, N.C.); Paris Kea (Greensboro Page H.S. / Greensboro, N.C.); Kyra Lambert (Samuel Clemens H.S. / Schertz, Texas); Marina Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Manasquan, N.J.); Teaira McCowan (Brenham H.S. / Brenham, Texas); Beatrice Mompremier (Miami H.S. / Miami, Fla.); Mariya Moore (Salesian H.S. / Richmond, Calif.); Ali Patberg (Columbus North H.S. / Columbus, Ind.); Cierra Porter (Rock Bridge H.S. / Columbia, Mo.); Jessica Shepard (Fremont H.S. / Fremont, Neb.); Azura Stevens (Cary H.S. / Raleigh, N.C.); Destinee Walker (Lake Highland Prep School / Ocoee, Fla.); and Stephanie Watts (Weddington H.S. / Wesley Chapel, N.C).
Joining Staley on the USA U18 team sideline as assistants are collegiate head coaches Kim Barnes Arico (University of Michigan) and Jeff Walz (University of Louisville). Jackie Carson (Furman University) and Stefanie Pemper (U.S. Naval Academy) will serve as court coaches during the U18 trials.
In all, and including the three gold medalists, there are 12 athletes with prior USA Basketball experience among the trials participants.
Caldwell won a gold medal with the 2011 USA U16 National Team at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, while Turner and Wilson teamed up to aid the USA to gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. Turner has the most experience with USA Basketball as she also collected gold at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and owns a trio of 3x3 gold medals, winning at the 2012 and 2013 FIBA U18 3x3 World Championships and the 2013 FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship.
Belton, Calhoun, Cowling, Drummer, Moore and Turner participated in the 2011 USA U16 National Team Trials; Belton, Calhoun, Drummer and Wilson were on the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials roster; and Drummer was moved up from the 2012 U17 trials to compete in the 2012 USA U18 National Team trials.
Last summer Cunningham, Collier and Porter’s Primus team finished in second place at both the 2013 USA Basketball 3x3 National Championship and USA 3x3 U18 National Championship; while Dunbar was a member of the Black Venom squad that finished in third place at the 2013 USA 3x3 U18 National Championship.
The 28 athletes hail from 13 states, with California, North Carolina and Texas being represented by four athletes each; Florida and Missouri list three; New Jersey and New York each have two athletes on the list; while Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Carolina have one apiece.
A total of 13 athletes will graduate high school this year, 12 will graduate in 2015 and one athlete is a rising junior who will graduate in 2016. At 6-foot-7, McCowan lists as the tallest on the roster and Flaherty is the shortest at 5-foot-7. The oldest is Stevens, who was born on Feb. 1, 1996, while the youngest is Watts, born on April 16, 1997.
In addition to Foster, members of the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee include NCAA appointees Melanie Balcomb (Vanderbilt University), Lindsay Gottlieb (University of California) and Joi Williams (University of Central Florida); and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson serves as the athlete representative.
FIBA Americas U18 Championship Originally known as the FIBA Americas Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament, the event was held every four years from 1998-2004. FIBA changed its calendar following the 2004 championship; 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 a remarkable 43-2 overall record in U18 / Junior Qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, while capturing silver medals in 1992 and 1996.
Numerous stars have competed for USA Basketball at the U18s, including: 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); Breanna Stewart (2012); Diana Taurasi (2000); Morgan Tuck (2012); and Candice Wiggins (2004).