Thirty-Six Athletes Accept Invitations to 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team Trials
The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team Trials, which will take place May 26-28 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will feature eight international medalists alongside 14 athletes who possess prior USA Basketball training camp experience and 14 players new to USA Basketball.
The 12-member 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team is expected to be announced on May 28, and athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 2000).
Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.) returns from the silver medalist 2019 USA U19 World Cup team, and she won a gold medal at the 2017 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup alongside Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary's H.S./Stockton, Calif.).
In 2016, DeCosta and Williams along with Jenna Brown (The Lovett School/Smyrna, Ga.), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.), Sedona Prince (Liberty Hill H.S./Liberty Hill, Texas) and Abby Prohaska (Lakota West H.S./Liberty Township, Ohio) collected a bronze medal at the FIBA U17 World Cup. And in 2015, Desiree Caldwell (Byron P. Steele II H.S./Cibolo, Texas), DeCosta, Prince and Honesty Scott-Grayson (Riverdale Baptist H.S./ Severn, Md.) won a bronze medal at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
2018 participants with prior USA Basketball trials experience include: Breanna Beal (Rock Island H.S./Rock Island, Ill.); Grace Berg (Indianola H.S./Carlisle, Iowa); Kennedy Brown (Derby Senior H.S./Derby, Kan.); Taylor Chavez (Valley Vista H.S./Surprise, Ariz.); Amira Collins (Paul VI Catholic H.S./Waldorf, Md.); McKenzie Forbes (Folsom H.S./Folsom, Calif.); Katlyn Gilbert (Heritage Christian School/Indianapolis, Ind.); Zarielle Green (Duncanville H.S./Dallas, Texas); Nazarah Hillmon-Baker (Gilmour Academy/Cleveland, Ohio); Jordan Nixon (Mary Louis Academy/New York, N.Y.); Anaya Peoples (Schlarman H.S./Danville, Ill.); NaLyssa Smith (East Central H.S./Converse, Texas); and Zoe Young (Valley H.S./Urbandale, Iowa).
Additionally, Emily Engstler (St. Francis Prep/New York, N.Y.) participated in the 2017 USA Basketball 3x3 National Championship.
Taking part in their first USA Basketball event will be: Shakira Austin (Riverdale Baptist H.S./Fredericksburg, Va.); Aijha Blackwell (Whitfield School/Berkeley, Mo.); Maori Davenport (Henderson H.S./Troy, Ala.); Elizabeth Dixon (Ridgeway H.S./Germantown, Tenn.); Queen Egbo (Travis H.S./Houston, Texas); Hayley Frank (Strafford H.S./Marshfield, Mo.); DeYona Gaston (Pearland H.S./Pearland, Texas); Heavenly Greer (Horizon H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.); Rhyne Howard (Bradley Central H.S./Cleveland, Tenn.); Ashley Joens (Iowa City H.S./Iowa City, Iowa); Jazmine Massengill (Heights Christian Academy/Harrison, Tenn.); Karisma Ortiz (Archbishop Mitty H.S. San Jose, Calif.); Jaden Owens (Plano West H.S./Plano, Texas); and Sammie Puisis (William Mason H.S./Mason, Ohio).
“I think we’ve invited a very deep and talented group of players to the U18 trials,” said Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington University), chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, which is responsible for selecting players and coaches for USA women’s U18 and U19 teams. “There is a good mix of players and diversity within positions. I feel the committee invited a good balance of players at every position, with and without USA basketball experience.”
All of the 25 athletes who will graduate high school in 2018 have signed a National Letter of Intent. Heading to Baylor University will be DeCosta, Egbo, Scott-Grayson and Smith; signed with the University of Tennessee are Collins, Green and Massengill; the University of Notre Dame will feature Gilbert, Nixon and Prohaska; the University of Connecticut will get Nelson-Ododa and Williams; Austin signed with the University of Maryland; Berg will play at the University of Missouri; Brown is headed to Stanford University; Caldwell signed with the University of Southern California; Chavez will play at the University of Oregon; Dixon signed with Georgia Tech University; Engstler is headed to Syracuse University; Forbes will play at the University of California; Hillmon-Baker signed with the University of Michigan; Howard will play at the University of Kentucky; Joens is headed to Iowa State University; Penn State University will feature Ortiz; and Prince is headed to the University of Texas
Among the 11 athletes who will graduate high school in 2019 and 2020, four players have verbally committed, including Peoples to Notre Dame; Frank to Missouri; Young with Maryland; and Puisis to Florida State University.
Austin and Scott-Grayson, who both attend Riverdale Baptist in Virginia are the only high school teammates on the trials roster.
The 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team will be led by Jeff Walz of the University of Louisville, with Natasha Adair of the University of Delaware and Cori Close of UCLA serving as the USA’s assistant coaches. The trio will guide the USA at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship, for which the dates and location are still to be announced. The top four finishing teams at the championship will earn a qualifying berth into next summer’s 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
The team members will return to Colorado Springs for training camp (dates to be determined), before the team departs for the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.