Gold Medalists Headline USA Women’s AmeriCup Team
Following a three-day training camp in Miami that featured 21 athletes, the USA Basketball Women’s AmeriCup Team was finalized and is headlined by a pair of veterans, Tina Charles (New York Liberty) and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), who have earned a combined nine Olympic and FIBA World Cup gold medals.
The 12-member team that will compete in the FIBA AmeriCup, which will be held Sept. 22-29 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also includes Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (University of Connecticut), Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings), Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky), Khadijah Sessions (Kouvot, Finland), Brittney Sykes (Atlanta Dream) and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
“It’s a good group,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “We’ve got a good, young group. We’ve got the spectrum. We’ve got the USA National Team first timers, we’ve got multi-time Olympians and then we’ve got some players who are very young, but who had great WNBA seasons. So, I think it’s great for us to see where our USA National Team pool is overall. So, I’m happy and excited to take the next step and go to Puerto Rico with this group.”
Ten nations will take part in the AmeriCup, with the top eight finishing teams advancing to a Nov. 10-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament (site TBA).
The field has been drawn into two pools of five teams each. Group A features Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The USA will compete in Group B against Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay.
Following preliminary play, the top two teams from each group advance to the Sept. 28 semifinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be held Sept. 29. All of the USA games will be shown live on ESPN+.
The USA opens AmeriCup competition against Paraguay at 3 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on Sept. 22, then will play Colombia at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, Argentina at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 and closes preliminary play against Brazil at 3 p.m. on Sept. 26.
“It’s a little bit easier now to prep for teams that you haven’t seen before, because all the games are somewhere online,” Staley said when asked how she approaches scouting teams with which she has little familiarity. “Our video coordinator Hudson Jacobs does a great job at finding every single game. If there was a game out there that was televised or on the internet, he’s going to find them. So, we’ve been doing a great job, all of us, all the coaches. Jen (Rizzotti) has done a great job at getting ahead of the preparation for some of the teams that we haven’t seen, especially some of the ones we’ve never seen, in these competitions.”
Collier, the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year, and Williams were two of 16 finalists for the 2018 USA World Cup Team; while DeShields and Dolson competed in 2018 USA National Team exhibition games; and Ogunbowale stepped onto the court during the first part of the 2018 USA National Team’s pre-World Cup training camp in South Carolina.
Ten of the 12 have captured at least one gold medal playing for USA Basketball junior teams. Sykes has taken part in two prior USA National Team training camps, and Sessions is the lone newcomer to the red, white and blue.
Canada earned gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2015 World University Games and most recently helped the 2017 USA U23 National Team earn first place in the U24 Four Nations Tournament in Tokyo.
Collier collected gold medals at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup in five-on-five action, and a gold at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, which was a 3x3 tournament.
DeShields has five gold medals in her trophy case from playing for the 2010 USA U18 National Team, 2011 USA U19 World Cup Team, 2012 U17 World Cup Team, 2012 USA 3x3 U18 World Cup Team and 2015 USA World University Games Team.
Dolson took part in her first USA National Team training camp in 2013 and prior to that earned golds at the 2010 U18 FIBA Americas Championship and 2011 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Nelson-Ododa earned a gold medal with the 2018 USA U18 National Team and returned with the bronze medal from the 2016 FIBA U17 World Cup.
Ogunbowale was on the 2017 USA U23 National Team and earned gold medals at the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2014 FIBA U17 World Cup. She also has competed in four international 3x3 tournaments, claiming gold at the 2013 FIBA Americas 3x3 U18 Championship, 2013 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup and 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and silver at the 2015 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup.
A 2017 USA National Team training camp participant, Samuelson played alongside Ogunbowale and Collier at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and was a teammate of Ogunbowale’s in the two 3x3 U18 tournaments in 2013. In traditional basketball action, Samuelson won gold at the 2013 U16s and 2014 U17s.
Williams, who joined in her first USA National Team training camp in 2018, won gold at the 2019 U16s, 2010 U17 World Cup and 2011 U19 World Cup.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, are serving as the 2019-20 USA National Team assistant coaches and will assist Staley in Miami and at the AmeriCup.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will take advantage of and participate in FIBA’s new Olympic qualification process, that provides nations with two windows of competition, Nov. 10-18, 2019, and Feb. 2-10, 2020.
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2019-20 USA National Team roster, which currently lists 34 athletes, will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Team will be comprised of players from the 2019-20 USA National Team.
Chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan, USA AmeriCup Team athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which currently includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.