Veterans, Rookies Compete For 12 Roster Spots On 2012 USA Women's U17 World Championship Team
Trials for the 2012 USA Basketball Women's U17 World Championship Team began on Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., with 33 players taking the court and competing for one of 12 roster spots on the USA Women's U17 World Championship Team.
Among the group are veterans such as two-time USA Basketball gold medalist Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga.) and all 12 members of the 2011 USA U16 National Team that qualified the USA for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship with a gold medal showing at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Also in the gym are USA Basketball newcomers Oderah Chidom (Bishop O’Dowd H.S./Oakland, Calif.) and Kai James (William T. Dwyer H.S./West Palm Beach, Fla.) and 18 other players who participated in the 2011 USA U16 trials.
Everyone arrives at trials with accolades, experience and high hopes, but ultimately only 12 will suit up for the USA in the FIBA U17 World Championship, which will be played Aug. 17-26 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
"Having made the team last year does give you confidence, but at the same time you still have to earn everything again this year," said Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S./Randallstown, Md.), who was a captain of the 2011 U16 squad. "I am definitely prepared for the altitude (the altitude is 6,035 feet in Colorado Springs) -- I learned how to cope with that last year. Conditioning is a big part of trials. I'm just going to be focused and not slack off."
On the opposite end of the spectrum, not making the team can be motivating and inspire confidence as well -- having seen first hand what it takes to make a USA roster.
"I went home thinking that I was going to work harder and hopefully get a chance at it the next year," said Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S./Pearland, Texas), who missed the cut in 2011. "That helped me stay motivated all throughout the year. I was watching film, listening to coaches and doing my best to improve and show why I should have made the team."
The USA Basketball Women's Developmental Nationanl Team Committe has a difficult task in selecting the team, and the players will have five sessions to impress the committee before the roster is announced on the morning of May 20.
"The first step for the committee is identifying who should come to trials and needless to say, those are high-quality athletes," said non-voting chair Carol Callan (USA Basketball Women's National Team Director). "The next step is at trials, where we put them through drills and teaching opportunities to see how well they interact with the coaches, as well as scrimmage opportunities to see who can play and who can maybe hit the big shot, so that we can come up with a 12-member team that can do a lot of things."
With fierce competition and so many talented players, you might expect that competiton to extend off of the court, but newcomer James says she encountered the opposite reception.
"Actually I don't know anyone," James said before the first session. "People have been very welcoming. Thankfully, I was put in a dorm room with someone who has been here before, so she told me what the committee was looking for and what do to and what not to do. She said they are looking for leadership. They are not always looking for the best players. They are looking for people who are looking to help others and are not self-centered. I'm really excited, and I'm ready to get on the court."
Converging on Colorado Springs from all across the United States, these 33 players will have five sessions over four days to earn their spot, and without a doubt, it will take their best effort yet.