menu close twitter facebook snapchat instagram youtube article basketball gallery graph left-arrow right-arrow search star trophy video net clipboard shield-check shield-star stopwatch filter reset Share
Sylvia Fowles

Sylvia Fowles Leading USA AmeriCup Team in Scoring, Rebounding … and Mentorship

  • Author:
    Steve Drumwright, Red Line Editorial
  • Date:
    Sep 29, 2019

The three-time Olympic gold medalist is using her wealth of experience to help guide young national team players.

As one of the core veterans on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, Sylvia Fowles is focused on one objective: helping the Americans win a seventh straight Olympic gold medal next year in Tokyo.

That is why she and seven other veteran players committed to a year-long program aimed at making sure that objective is accomplished.

But there is another mission the 33-year-old and three-time Olympic gold medalist has: making sure the next generation of the USA National Team is ready to take the torch.

As such, Fowles, a 6-foot-6 center, has made sure her leadership with the roster for this week’s FIBA AmeriCup in San Juan, Puerto Rico, extends to more than just understanding the X’s and O’s. She takes her role as a mentor seriously, and it’s a position she has embraced.

“It's very important,” Fowles said. “That's what USA Basketball is about, not just giving all of yourself on the court but also off the court.”

Few can match Fowles’ resume on the court. She won Olympic gold with the USA in 2008, 2012 and 2016, plus a World Cup gold medal in 2010. After leading Louisiana State University to four Final Fours, Fowles was the No. 2 overall draft pick of the Chicago Sky in 2008. Since a trade to the Minnesota Lynx in 2015, Fowles has won two league MVPs and two WNBA titles.

Off the court, Fowles has earned the nickname “Mama Syl” for her mentorship efforts. She takes players out to dinner and offers them advice on a wide range of topics, with the younger ones following her around almost like baby ducklings.

“I can recall being in their shoes when I came to USA Basketball,” Fowles, whose first overseas trip with the national team was to Australia in April 2006, said. “I had older veterans who took me under their wing. (Three-time Olympic gold medalist) Katie Smith was my mentor when I first started, so I'm just trying to give back what somebody did for me and hopefully it trickles down and continues that tradition and builds the next generation as well.”

If her efforts on the court match what Fowles is doing on the court, the future of the national team will be very bright. Entering Sunday’s gold medal game against Canada in the AmeriCup, Fowles is averaging team bests of 14 points and 8 rebounds per game while shooting 76 percent from the field.

The Americans have already clinched a spot in the FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in November, but with the USA having already qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, the program is using the AmeriCup as an opportunity to get a look at different players and rotations with an eye on the Olympics. The Americans have rarely participated in the AmeriCup in recent years, with 2019 being the first time they have competed since winning the gold medal in 2007.  

And while the AmeriCup serves as a tune-up for the USA, the experience gained by the younger players who might play more prominent roles in the coming years is invaluable, and Fowles is a huge part of that.

“She's definitely the one that everybody looks up to,” said Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Connecticut who is learning more than just post moves from Fowles. “She has that kind of mother figure role and I think that's really important, especially for me as a young player, this is my first time doing it at such a high level.”

Fowles says the younger players tend to ask her more about the business end of basketball, whether it is managing finances or about playing overseas. One of the biggest pieces of advice Fowles tells the younger players is to take care of themselves and treat themselves well, something that can get lost when focused on a career.

“I think giving them that perspective from my end I think is very important,” Fowles said.

 

Steve Drumwright is a freelance contributor to USAB.com on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Related Videos

Dawn Staley, playing in her third Olympic Games, was elected by her peers - all U.S. team captains - to carry the flag and lead the U.S. delegation into the 2004 Opening Ceremony. She reflects back on her selection and what it meant to her.

Several notable athletes on the USA National Team sat out most, if not all, of the 2019 WNBA season and are gearing up to get back on the court with their pro teams as the league launches the 2020 season.

USA Basketball National Team standouts Nneka Ogwumike and Napheesa Collier offer their thoughts and insights to seven of the nation's best collegiate athletes in USA Basketball's first Junior National Team panel discussion.

The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team overcame a 16-point deficit in a 74-68 win over Canada on Sept. 8, 2018 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The USA outscored Canada by 18 points in the final two quarters to avoid its first loss on home soil since a 65-64 exhibition defeat at the University of Tennessee on Nov. 7, 1999.

Four years ago, after the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s National Team had been together for less than a week and played one exhibition against the USA Select Team (a game that will be re-aired in two weeks), the USA squad traveled from Los Angeles to Newark, Delaware, for an exhibition game against France. Tina Charles finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists, and the U.S. used a potent second half performance to seize an 84-62 victory.

The home of the Blue Hens also was home to Elena Delle Donne during her collegiate career. It was where during her four years, she helped lead UD to a 104-32 record (.765 winning percentage), the 2013 NCAA Sweet Sixteen, 2012 NCAA second round, a pair of WNITs, two Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles and two CAA tournament crowns.

Related Content

Brittney Griner has won three gold medals and compiled a 34-2 record in a USA Basketball jersey.

The dynamic duo of Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart were the one-two punch that helped lead the Seattle Storm to a fourth WNBA title – all four of which featured Bird.

Seimone Augustus has won seven gold medals with USA Basketball.

In recognition of her selfless act to defer her athletic career to pursue criminal justice reform, two-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist Maya Moore has been named as the recipient of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s 2020 Jack Kelly Fair Play Award.

One of the most decorated athletes in USA Basketball history, Sue Bird has a career 142-6 record in a USA jersey.

Coach Licensing & Organization Accreditation Login



Forgot Password?