Familiar Faces, Several New Ones Open 2012 USA Women’s U18 Trials
Colorado Springs, Colo. • May 19, 2012
Twenty-five athletes participated in the first session of 2012 USA Basketball Women’s National Team Trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center on Saturday morning as they work to determine the 12-player USA roster for the 2012 FIBA Americas Championship played Aug. 15-19 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
While there are some familiar faces, including 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.), the majority of those in attendance have no prior experience with USA Basketball. Of the 25, just four have represented the U.S. in competition and only three others have previously attended USA Basketball trials.
“Especially because a lot of these people haven't been in this position before, they are obviously going to show all they have in this three day trial,” Stewart said. “I think they're always learning because they aren't familiar with the court size and stuff like that, but overall I think it was a great first session and I'm sure they are going to get harder.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Stewart are 18 players that have never participated in a USA Basketball event before.
“It’s a blessing for me to be here, and it’s my first time so I’m kind of nervous but I know what I need to do,” Halle Washington (Parkway H.S./Bossier City, La.) said. “I’m really, really excited to be here. I finally got the letter from them, and I was so excited I almost cried.”
Stewart is the most internationally experienced of those at the U18 trials. She was the only high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team and, along with fellow trials attendee Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./Bolingbrook, Ill.), helped the USA to a gold medal at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship in Chile. Imani Stafford (Los Angeles, Calif./Windward School) was named to the USA U19 squad as well, but withdrew from the event due to injury.
In 2010, Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S./Clarksville, Tenn.) played with Stafford, Stewart and Tuck on the USA U17 World Championship Team that won gold at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship. Graves and Stewart also were teammates on the 2009 USA U16 FIBA Americas Championship Team that won gold. Tuck was named to the 2009 USA U16 team, but withdrew due to injury.
In addition, Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Association/Glenn Heights, Texas) was a finalist for the 2011 USA U19 team and played in an exhibition against Brazil in Orlando, Fla. on June 5, 2011. Jefferson also attended trials for the 2009 U16 and 2010 U17 teams. Alexis Prince (Edgewater H.S./Orlando, Fla.) and Courtney Williams (North Shore H.S./Houston, Texas) have participated in trials as well; both attended the 2009 U16 trials and Prince played at the 2010 U17 trials.
“I’m just hoping the third time is the charm and I can make it this time,” said Prince. “The first two times motivated me to work on my game to see what I need to do to make the team. I used those as motivation.”
All players in attendance come to trials with loads of awards and honors, providing the Junior National Team Committee with a difficult task in setting the final roster.
“We’re going to have a whole group of young women that are very, very talented,” said Sue Donohoe (Chair of Junior National Team Committee). “Certainly any of these women have the skills to play at the USA Basketball level, but what you want to do is find those 12 women that can come together as a team, bring their strengths together and help one another be a strong team. We’ll look at the talent, but we’ll look at how we can bring that talent together in a group of 12.”
All 25 players in attendance are here because they are among the best in their age group, but ultimately only 12 will don the red, white and blue for the U.S. at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in August.