2019 USA Basketball Women's U19 World Cup Coaches Announced
After coaching the 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team to a gold medal and a berth in the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup, head coach Jeff Walz (Louisville) and assistant coaches Natasha Adair (Delaware) and Cori Close (UCLA) will return to guide the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup Team.
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, is responsible for selecting the U.S. coaching staff, which is approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
“Jeff Walz, Natasha Adair and Cori Close did an excellent job last summer in leading the USA U18 National Team to a gold medal,” said Rizzotti. “We appreciate their commitment and the way in which they positively represented USA Basketball. The committee feels keeping the staff together and building on the continuity they gained working as a team in 2018 will give us the best opportunity at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup in Bangkok.”
Trials to select the 12-member team will be held May 16-20 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Training camp will follow July 5-19, with the U19 World Cup competition taking place July 20-28 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens, born on or after .
This is Walz’s sixth coaching assignment with USA Basketball. Prior to the 2018 USA U18 National Team, Walz led the 2017 USA Basketball U23 National Team to a 3-0 record and a tournament title at the Four Nations U24 Tournament in Tokyo. He also helped USA Basketball to gold medals as an assistant coach for the 2014 USA U18 and 2015 USA U19 national teams and served as a court coach at the 2017 USA Women's National Team training camp.
“It has been an absolute privilege to work with USA Basketball the past four summers, and I am extremely excited to get the opportunity to do so again,” Walz said. “I had an amazing experience last summer in Mexico City as the head coach of the U18 team, and I look forward to working with this group again. Working with USA Basketball is something that I have always dreamed of doing, and I look forward to leading the U19 team. USA Basketball possesses impeccable standards and a winning tradition, and it is an honor to once again be entrusted with such an important role.”
Walz recently completed his 12thseason (2007-08 to present) as University of Louisville head coach. The 2018 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year and 2019 Naismith Coach of the Year candidate holds a 331-100 (.768) career record as a head coach.
In 2018-19, the Cardinals finished 32-4 overall after advancing to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Finishing 14-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, the Cardinals also captured their second consecutive ACC regular season title.
Under Walz, Louisville has made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 nine times, the Final Four three times and to two national title games. He has coached four All-Americans, including two-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Angel McCoughtry and Asia Durr, the second overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft. Prior to Louisville he spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach with Western Kentucky, Nebraska, Minnesota and Maryland.
Adair will undertake her third USA Basketball coaching assignment after having served as an assistant coach for the 2018 USA Women’s U18 National Team and as a court coach during the 2017 USA Basketball U19 World Cup Team trials. She recently completed her second season at the University of Delaware (2017-18 to present) where she has compiled a 35-28 (.556) overall record.
“It’s a coach’s dream to stand there and represent the United States,” Adair said. “Coming off of a championship a year ago, we’re just really excited to do it again. I can’t say enough about USA Basketball and the people affiliated with it and the experience. So for me, it’s an honor.”
In 2018-19, the Blue Hens finished 16-15 overall and 11-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association. On Feb. 1, Adair celebrated her 100thcareer win over William and Mary.
Prior to Delaware, she spent three seasons (2014-15 to 2016-17) as the head coach at Georgetown University and two seasons (2012-2014) as the head coach at College of Charleston. She also spent 14 seasons (1998-2012) as an assistant coach at Georgetown (1998-99 through 2003-04) and Wake Forest University (2004-05 through 2006-07) before being promoted to associate head coach at Wake from 2007-08 through 2011-12.
“I just feel like working with [Jeff and Cori] our chemistry was phenomenal,” Adair added. “Jeff was a great coach and we were able to work together. There was no hierarchy, it was just in the best interest of USA Basketball and the young ladies we work with. They are more than just colleagues, they’re friends, so I’m really excited to be back alongside them.”
2019 will also be Close’s third USA Basketball coaching assignment after she was an assistant coach for the 2018 USA U18 National Team and a court coach at the 2017 USA Women’s U23 National Team Training Camp. Close recently completed her eighth season at UCLA (2011-12 to present), where she compiled an overall record of 172-99 (.635).
“It’s an honor to be a part of the organization,” Close said. “I learn so much from the other coaches and colleagues that I get a chance to work with and I get a chance to help grow the game. That’s a pretty cool combination: represent your country, grow as a coach, and grow the game. That’s a trifecta of winning. I’m just really thrilled to have the opportunity to represent my country and to have a whole lot of fun in the process.”
In 2018-19, Close directed the Bruins to their fourth straight 20-win season and fourth consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 appearance. UCLA finished 22-13 overall and finished fourth in the Pacific-12 Conference. UCLA also had seven top-25 wins, including wins over then-ranked No. 2 Oregon and No. 9 Maryland. The Bruins, who ranked second in the NCAA in offensive rebounds per game (17.3), became one of only eight teams to reach the Sweet 16 four years in a row. Close was named the 2018 United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Division I Region 5 Coach of the Year, her second such honor.
Prior to UCLA, Close spent 18 seasons as an assistant coach at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and Florida State.
“We had really great chemistry last year,” Close said of the USA U18 team. “I learned so much from them. They’ve continued to be a resource throughout this year, so it feels like we’re hitting a really cool stride going into this next summer where we hope to lead our U19s in a really good way. They really are excellent coaches, both in their x’s and o’s and the way that they care for players.”
The USA Junior National Team Committee, in addition to Rizzotti, includes 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson as the athletic representative; and collegiate head coaches Karen Aston (Texas), Tonya Cardoza (Temple) and Wes Moore (North Carolina State) as the NCAA representatives.
FIBA U19 World Cup for Women
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2005 and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year.
USA women’s teams are 79-13 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record. In 2017, USA Basketball fell four points short against Russia in the gold medal game in an attempt to capture a seventh-straight gold medal.
Notable players to represent the U.S. include: Angela Aycock (1993), Alana Beard (2001), Essence Carson (2005), Tamika Catchings (1997), Crystal Dangerfield (2015, 2017), Bria Hartley (2011), Ruthy Hebard (2017), Crystal Langhorne (2005), Erlana Larkins (2005), Jantel Lavender (2007), Lisa Leslie (1989), Rebecca Lobo (1993), Maya Moore (2007), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009), Vickie Orr (1985), Courtney Paris (2005), Cappie Pondexter (2001), Katie Smith (1993), Dawn Staley (1989), Azura Stevens (2015), Breanna Stewart (2011 and MVP of the 2013 U19 World Cup), Diana Taurasi (2001), Morgan Tuck (2011 and 2013) and A’ja Wilson (2013 and MVP of the 2015 U19 World Cup).