2019 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team Filled with Experience and Talent
Following six trials sessions over four days that featured 30 athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup Team was finalized May 19 and includes 10 returning gold medalists and two NCAA champions. The 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup will be held July 20-28 in Bangkok, Thailand, where the USA will attempt to capture an eighth gold medal.
Selections were made by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti.
Named to the 2019 USA U19 World Cup Team were: Francesca Belibi (Regis H.S./Centennial, Colo.); Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy, Mass./St. Thomas, USVI); Cameron Brink (Southridge H.S./Beaverton, Ore.); Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.); Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa); Queen Egbo (Baylor/Houston, Texas); Naz Hillmon-Baker (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio); Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.); Jordan Nixon (Notre Dame/New York, N.Y.); NaLyssa Smith (Baylor/Converse, Texas); Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran/Valley Stream, N.Y.); and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.).
“A lot goes into it, these are the best players in the country,” Rizzotti said. “There’s a great level of diversity, experience and age. You have college kids that have the experience of being coached by a college coach, but you have a lot of really young players that have a lot of USA Basketball experience. As a committee we try to find not just 12 of the best players but the best mix of players that we can give to Jeff and his staff to help them win a gold medal. The harder they compete, the harder they make our job. It’s a good thing, but to have to walk into the room and cut 18 kids that really came out here and competed really hard is a tough job.”
“First, I want to say thank you to the committee, what a difficult job they had trying to get down to a final 12,” said Jeff Walz, USA U19 and University of Louisville head coach. “I’m really impressed with all the young women who came out here to be a part of the trials. And now that we’re down to 12, I’m looking forward to getting to know them before we come back here on July 5 to start practice.
“It’s a versatile group. We’ve got some very strong post players, some very dynamic guards. I think we have a chance to do a lot of different things on the basketball court.”
The U.S. team will return to Colorado Springs to train July 5-10 before traveling to Tokyo, Japan, where the squad will practice and scrimmage against the Japan U19 National Team July 13-15. The USA has an additional three days of training and a pair of scrimmages in Bangkok against Argentina and Germany, July 17-19, before the 13th edition of the FIBA U19 World Cup tips off July 20.
Five team members competed as freshmen for NCAA Division I programs this past season, three are from the high school class of 2019 and four will graduate high school in 2020.
All 12 athletes have prior USA Basketball experience, 10 of whom have earned gold medals in international competition.
Hillmon-Baker, Howard, who earned MVP honors, and Smith were members of the 2018 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship and earned USA Basketball’s berth to this summer’s U19 competition.
Belibi, Boston, Brink, Bueckers, Taylor and VanLith helped the 2018 USA U17 World Cup Team capture the FIBA U17 World Cup gold medal.
Aiding the USA to gold at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship were Belibi, tournament MVP Boston, Bueckers, Clark and Taylor.
In 3x3 play, Boston, Bueckers and Van Lith earned a gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Egbo and Nixon were named to the 2018 USA U18 team but withdrew due to school commitments.
Of the five athletes who were college freshmen this past season, Egbo and Smith capped their season as 2019 NCAA champions, while Nixon helped Notre Dame to the national championship game.
No. 1 in FIBA’s world youth women’s rankings, the USA will play in preliminary round Group C and will open the competition July 20 against No. 7 Australia, followed by a July 21 contest against No. 15 South Korea. After a rest day, the USA will cap preliminary games July 23 against No. 14 Hungary.
Group A includes Canada, Latvia, Mozambique and Thailand; Group B features Argentina, Belgium, China and Mali; and drawn into Group D were Colombia, Germany, Japan and Spain.
Following the preliminary round, all teams will advance to the July 24 round of 16. The winners of the round of 16 will advance to the July 26 medal quarterfinals, and the losers will play out for ninth-16th places. The semifinals will be played on July 27, and the gold and bronze medal games on July 28.
Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens, born on or after Jan. 1, 2000.
Walz is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Natasha Adair (Delaware) and Cori Close (UCLA).
In addition to Rizzotti, the USA Junior National Team 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), 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).