Eighteen Finalists Announced For 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team
After four days of trials that began on May 25 with 133 hopefuls at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 18 finalists were announced for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team on Monday morning.
The USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee is responsible for the selections, and players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 2001.
“As with every trials in our country, it’s an extremely competitive process,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the selection committee. “As a committee, we were very pleased with the progression from the very first skills session through the end of the trials. The athletes were engaged, talented and they pushed each other, and the committee to make the right decision. We feel like we were able to find 18 athletes who are versatile, who have every position and type of player covered, that can push the ball, play in the half court and defend in many ways. We have 18 athletes that will make it difficult to get to 12 players, but we feel the team that will be selected will be successful in Argentina.”
The finalists will remain in Colorado Springs for training camp, and the 12-member roster for the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team will be announced prior to the team’s departure for the competition on June 4.
The USA will compete in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship from June 7-11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where it will be in the hunt for a gold medal as well as a berth into the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, which is awarded to the top four finishing teams.
The 18 finalists include: River Baldwin (Pleasant Home School/Andalusia, Ala.); Francesca Belibi (Regis Jesuit H.S./Centennial, Colo.); Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/Worcester, Mass.); Cameron Brink (Southridge H.S./Beaverton, Ore.); Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.); Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.); Maddie Burke (Central Bucks H.S. West/ Doylestown, Pa.); Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa); Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio); Azzi Fudd (Potomac School/Falls Church, Va.); Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio); Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.); Diamond Miller (Franklin H.S./Somerset, N.J.); Jordyn Oliver (Prosper H.S./Prosper, Texas); Ashley Owusu (Paul VI Catholic H.S./Woodbridge, Va.); Ramani Parker (Central H.S./Fresno, Calif.); Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran H.S./Valley Stream, N.Y.); and Kylee Watson (Mainland Regional H.S./Linwood, N.J.).
“The entire weekend was an amazing experience for myself, my staff, the court coaches,” said USA head coach Carla Berube (Tufts University). “We thought that having 133 talented athletes in this gym made it very hard for the committee. The athletes worked very hard every single session, every single scrimmage and gave it everything they had. To now be down to 18, I’m really, really looking forward to the next few days of practice.”
Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University) and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.) complete the USA staff as assistant coaches.
Brunelle helped the USA to a bronze medal as a member of the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team, while Boston was one of 18 finalists for the 2016 USA U17 team.
Jones took part in both the 2015 U16 and 2016 U17 trials; Oliver and Owusu attended the 2016 U17 trials; and returning from the 2015 U16 trials are Cooke and Taylor.
Additionally, Belibi played on Denver at the 2017 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National Tournament this past April at the USOTC.
Twelve of the finalists will graduate high school in 2019, five players are from the class of 2020 and Fudd will finish her prep campaign in 2021. The finalists hail from 13 different states, with Virginia featuring three, while California and New Jersey are represented by two each.
Brunelle is the top-ranked player by espnW in the class of 2019, Jones is sixth, Horston is eighth, Boston is ninth, Owusu is 10th, Cooke is 14th, Baldwin is 17th and Miller is 20th.
For the class of 2020, espnW lists 50 players not ranked in order, and that list includes: Brink, Bueckers, Burke, Clark and Watson.
In addition to Callan, the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee includes: athlete representatives Tamika Catchings, a four-time Olympic and two-time World Championship gold medalist, and DeLisha Milton-Jones, a two-time Olympic and two-time World Championship gold medalist; AAU representative Kevin Lynch of the Philadelphia Belles; National Federation of High Schools representative Jill Rankin Schneider, a 1980 U.S. Olympian and head coach at Monterey High School in Texas; and at-large representatives Kirsten Moore, head coach at Westmont College (NAIA), and Mia Smith, head coach at Illinois Wesleyan University (DIII).