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Lisa Fortier

2019 USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Trials Court Coaches Announced

  • Date:
    May 7, 2019

Calling on four very successful collegiate head coaches, including two heralded U.S. Olympic gold medalists, USA Basketball today announced that Lisa Fortier (Gonzaga), Aaron Johnston (South Dakota State), Nikki McCray-Penson (Old Dominion) and DeLisha Milton-Jones (Pepperdine) have been selected as court coaches for USA Basketball’s upcoming women’s U19 World Cup and Pan American Games team trials.

The 2019 USA Basketball women’s trials, which will be used to select the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup and U.S. Pan American Games teams, will take place May 16-20 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

This is the first USA Basketball coaching assignment for all four court coaches, who were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. They will assist the USA U19 and U.S. Pan American Games coaching staffs with on-court drills and skills sessions and help coach scrimmages throughout the trials weekend.

 “These four coaches will bring knowledge and enthusiasm to our women’s trials,” said Jennifer Rizzotti, chair of the selection committee and head coach at George Washington University. “We appreciate their willingness to give their time to help assist the USA U19 and USA Pan Am Games coaching staffs and to help ensure the athletes have a successful trials experience.”

Fortier recently completed her fifth season with Gonzaga (2014-15 to present) after previously serving as their assistant coach for seven seasons (2006-07 to 2013-14).

“The opportunity to work with USA Basketball is one that I am thrilled and honored to be a part of,” Fortier said. “The commitment, dedication and pride that comes from representing your country is something that I am truly looking forward to experiencing.”

In 2018-19, Fortier posted a record-setting season, as the Zags recorded the winningest season in her tenure and tied the program’s second highest win total. Gonzaga finished 29-5 overall and 16-2 in the West Coast Conference, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA Tournament, the Zags earned a No. 5 seed, their highest ever. Gonzaga also reached its highest national ranking in program history - No. 12 in AP and No. 11 in USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll. For her efforts, Fortier broke her own record, earning WCC Coach of the Year for the fourth time in her first five years. Additionally, Fortier became the fastest coach to 100 wins in program history, accomplishing the feat in 135 games.

Johnston, the winningest women’s basketball in South Dakota State University history, recently completed his 19th season with SDSU (2000-01 to present), where he owns a career record 469-156 (.750).

“It is a tremendous honor to be a part of USA Basketball and their storied tradition of excellence,” Johnston said. “I am looking forward to working with and learning from the talented coaches, athletes and USA Basketball staff.”

In 2018-19, the Jackrabbits finished 28-7 and 15-1 in the Summit League, claiming their ninth Summit League Championship title. South Dakota State capped the 2018-19 season with a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Johnston has guided SDSU to 13 postseason appearances, including nine NCAA Tournaments since the program turned Division I in 2004-05. He has been named the Summit League Coach of the Year four times (2008, 2009, 2012, 2014) and has guided the Jackrabbits to a winning record in all 19 years at South Dakota State.

nbsp;“Nikki, DeLisha and Lisa are highly accomplished in the women’s basketball community, and I am excited to join them in this opportunity with USA Basketball,” Johnston added.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist and 1998 World Cup gold medalist as an athlete, McCray-Penson recently completed her second year as head coach at Old Dominion University (2017-18 to present). McCray-Penson previously served as an assistant coach for Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina for nine seasons (2008-09 to 2016-17).

In 2018-19, the Monarchs finished 21-11 overall and 10-6 in Conference USA and advanced to the first round of the WNIT.

“I'm grateful and honored to have the opportunity to be a part of USA Basketball as court coach, and I am looking forward to learning and growing from this experience,” McCray-Penson said.

McCray-Penson won four gold medals and was a member of nine USA Basketball teams. She was a part of the historic 1995-96 USA National Team that spent more than 10 months together compiling a 52-0 record in the lead-up to the Olympics. A standout at the University of Tennessee where she won a NCAA championship in 1991, she is a three-time WNBA All-Star selection, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 after playing professionally for 11 years, also being named 1996-97 American Basketball League Most Valuable Player.

Two-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Milton-Jones recently completed her second season as the head coach at Pepperdine University (2017-18 to present). In 2018-19, the Waves had a historic season, finishing 22-12 overall, the most wins since 2002, and 12-6 in the West Coast Conference, the highest WCC finish since 2011. It was Pepperdine’s first winning season since 2012, and they tied for fifth-best season in school history. They advanced to the WNIT Sweet 16.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to do anything involving USA Basketball, it is something very special,” Milton-Jones said. “And especially because in some form or fashion, you are leaving your fingerprint on whatever team that you’re working for under the USA Basketball umbrella. For me, it’s very prestigious, and knowing that I went from a player to a coach is special to me because it’s my way of being able to give back, pay it forward and continue to grow the game.”

In 2017-18, she led the Waves to their first double-digit win total since 2012. She became the first Pepperdine women’s basketball coach to win both her season opener and the West Coast Conference opener and the first to begin the league season with two straight WCC victories.

Including her two Olympic and two World Cup gold medals, Milton-Jones was a member of 18 USA Basketball teams and compiled a 125-10 all-time record. A University of Florida star who earned All-America honors and was named Player of the Year her senior season, Milton-Jones is a three-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA champion and two-time EuroLeague champion, whose playing career spanned 15 WNBA and two ABL seasons.

“Nikki and I were teammates on the 2000 Olympic Team,” Milton Jones said. “So that will be a treat within itself, and of course getting to work with the other great coaches that are there, you get to bounce ideas off of one another, share energy with each other, and enjoy the experience together. I’m excited about it.”

In addition to Rizzotti, the USA Junior National Team Selection Committee includes athlete representative and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson, and NCAA representatives Karen Aston (Texas), Tonya Cardoza (Temple) and Wes Moore (North Carolina State).

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