Finalists Named for 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team
Following four days of skills and trials sessions, which began with 158 athletes on May 24 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, 18 finalists were selected for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team on May 28.
Selection of the finalists and eventual 12-member USA U17 World Cup Team was conducted by USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee.
Eight of the finalists return after claiming gold at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, seven others have taken part in a USA Basketball trials or 3x3 event and three are newcomers to USA Basketball.
Returning from the 2017 USA U16 national team are: Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI), who was named MVP of the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, as well as Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit H.S./Centennial, Colo.); Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.); Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.); Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio); Azzi Fudd (St. John’s College H.S., D.C./Arlington, Va.); Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio); and Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran H.S./Valley Stream, N.Y.)
Additionally, Boston, Brunelle, Bueckers and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.) won the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s 3x3 U18 National Championship on March 25, and on April 4 were named to the 2018 U.S. Youth Olympic Women’s Basketball Team that will compete in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games Oct. 6-18 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Six additional players had taken part in at least one prior USA Basketball trials, including: River Baldwin (Pleasant Home School/Andalusia, Ala.); Cameron Brink (Southridge H.S./Beaverton, Ore.); Rickea Jackson (Detroit Edison Public School Academy/Detroit, Mich.); Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.); Charisma Osborne (Windward School/Moreno Valley, Calif.); and Angel Reese (St. Frances Academy/Randallstown, Md.).
Newcomers named as finalists include: Alli Campbell (Bellwood-Antis H.S./Altoona, Pa.); Aubrey Griffin (Ossining H.S./Ossining, N.Y.); and Hannah Gusters (Duncanville H.S./DeSoto, Texas).
“I’m really excited,” said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. “I just heard the names of the 18 finalists and I’m ready to go in a couple hours for our first practice. It’s a great combination of players. I know it was difficult for the committee, but I think it’s a really strong group of 18.
“It’s going to be really hard (to cut the list down to 12). We’ll have six practices and then we’ll have our 12 on Wednesday night. We’re going to battle in practice, get better and work on some things we’ll need in Belarus, and then figure out what’s the best 12 combination of players.”
“This was a very difficult decision,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National team director and chair of the USA Developmental National Team Committee. “Yet, it’s a great statement for the future of women’s basketball because there were so many quality athletes who made this trials the most competitive we’ve had. Once again, the concept of an open application process was validated. One of our goals is to have each of the athletes leave as a better player and with more skills to draw upon, and that goal was achieved. Now we look forward to the next step of selecting the 12-member team and that will also be a challenge for both the athletes and our committee.”
Finalists will remain in Colorado Springs for training camp through May 30. The official, 12-member roster for the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team is expected to be announced in the evening of May 30. The selected team members will return to Colorado Springs on July 4 to resume training camp. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 17 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2001).
Berube is being assisted by Lubbock Christian University head coach Steve Gomez and Winward School (Calif.) head coach Vanessa Nygaard.
The 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup will be held July 21-29 at Minsk's Sport Palace and Falcon Club in Minsk, Belarus. The USA qualified for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup with a gold-medal finish at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship this past summer.
The FIBA U17 World Cup for Women, which is held every two years, originated in 2010. The USA captured the 2010 FIBA U17 World Cup gold medal. Also claiming gold in 2012 and 2014, the USA's winning streak at the FIBA U17s was halted in 2016 by eventual gold medalist Australia in the semifinal game. The USA, however, rebounded to claim bronze with a 6-1 record. The USA is now 29-1 all-time in the four editions of the event.
The USA will open preliminary round play against Italy on July 21 before facing Mali on July 22 and China on July 24. All 16 teams advance to the July 25 round of 16 and winners will advance to the July 27 quarterfinals. Medal semifinals will be held July 28 and the gold medal will be contested July 29.
In addition to host Belarus, nations competing in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup are: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand and Spain.
Some of the players who have competed for USA Women’s U17 National Teams include: Lindsay Allen (2012), Diamond DeShields (2012), Rebecca Greenwell (2012), Joyner Holmes (2014), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2010), Ariel Massengale (2010), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (2016), Mercedes Russell (2012), Katie Lou Samuelson (2016), Breanna Stewart (2010), Christyn Williams (2016) and Elizabeth Williams (2010).