Adrienne Shibles to Lead 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team
The 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team will be led at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship by Adrienne Shibles (Bowdoin College) with assistant coaches Katie Gearlds (Marian University) and Sophia Witherspoon (Fort Pierce Central H.S., Fla.).
The 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship is scheduled to be played June 20-27 in Santiago, Chile, where the top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup. The eight teams qualified for the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador and the United States.
“The committee has selected three coaches in Adrienne, Katie and Sophia who have experience with successful programs, understand the importance of team culture and are teachers of the game,” said Carol Callan, chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team committee, which is responsible for selecting the USA coaches and athletes, and the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Director. “Additionally, Adrienne and Sophia previously have been involved with USA Basketball. Together they are a quality staff to lead the USA women at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.”
Shibles, who is the winningest coach in Bowdoin women’s basketball history, previously served as a court coach at the 2019 USA Women’s U16 National Team trials.
“It is an incredible honor to work with USA Basketball, but it is a distinct privilege to be asked to lead a national team,” Shibles said. “I am especially thrilled at the opportunity to help develop the next generation of United States women’s basketball talent. I want to thank USA Basketball for the opportunity to head this program and can’t wait to get on the court with my fellow coaches and these outstanding young women.”
In her 12 seasons at the helm of the Polar Bears, Shibles owns a record of 281-65 (.805), including 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, two New England Small College Athletic Conference championships and consecutive Final Four appearances in 2018 and 2019.
Upon the conclusion of the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shibles had led the Polar Bears to a 27-2 record, the NESCAC Championship and hosting rights for an NCAA Division III Sectional. The team did not compete in the 2020-21 campaign.
Gearlds, who has been the head women’s basketball coach at Marian University since 2013-14, will enter her first USA Basketball coaching assignment as an assistant for the 2021 USA U16 National Team. As an athlete, Gearlds played with USA Basketball for the North Team at the 2002 Youth Development Festival, finishing 5-0 to win the gold medal at the event.
“I am completely humbled and honored by this opportunity,” Gearlds said. “Words can’t express how grateful I am to represent our beautiful country coaching USA Basketball. Opportunities like this normally happen because of a coach’s success, and this honor has been given to me because I have surrounded myself and our team with winners. To all of the administration at Marian, my assistant coaches and all of the players I have coached – past and present – thank you for this. Without you, this is never a possibility – you all really make my job easy – thank you. And thank you to USA Basketball. Wow, this is literally a dream come true.”
She owns a 228-49 career record (.822) at Marian (all records are as of March 15, 2021). And in 2020-21, her squad is 27-5 and has advanced to the NAIA National Championship tournament Final Site, where it will begin play on March 18.
In 2019-20, Marian won 31 games and won the Crossroads League regular season title for a fifth consecutive season and the Crossroads League Tournament title for a fourth time during Gearlds’s career. She was named the 2020 NAIA Coach of the Year and the Crossroads League Coach of the Year. She also was named the NAIA Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, when her team won NAIA National Championships, and the Crossroad League Coach of the Year in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
A two-time bronze medalist as an athlete with USA Basketball, Witherspoon enters her second USA Basketball coaching assignment as an assistant coach for the 2021 USA Basketball U16 National Team.
She previously was a court coach at the 2018 USA Basketball U17 World Cup Team Trials. As a USA Basketball athlete, she earned a bronze medal and a 6-2 record as a member of the 1993 USA World University Games Team and a bronze medal as a member of the South Team at the 1989 U.S. Olympic Festival.
“This is truly an honor,” Witherspoon said. “First of all, to be a part of USA Basketball in this manner, coming up through as a player and now having the opportunity to give back and really pour into these young ladies that are coming up and really fire up these young athletes. It's really truly an honor and a humbling experience.”
Witherspoon has been the head girls basketball coach at her alma mater, Fort Pierce Central High School in Florida, for 10 seasons (2010-11 to 2012-13 and 2014-15 to present), where she also is an assistant coach for boys and girls tennis. Witherspoon spent the 2013-14 season as the director of basketball operations at Florida Atlantic University.
Overall as the girls basketball head coach at Fort Pierce Central, Witherspoon owns a 116-111 record. She guided her teams to a district runner-up finish and regional finals in 2017-18 and a district championship and the regional quarterfinals in 2018-19, when she was named the 2019 Florida Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
Players eligible for the 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 2005.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, trials for the 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team are expected to feature approximately 20 athletes invited by the USA Basketball Women’s Developmental National Team Committee and 10 athletes who will have applied to attend trials. Applications to attend trials must be submitted no later than April 2, and information on that process is available online. Applicant athletes will be notified of the committee’s decision by April 12.
Due to safety precautions, media will not be permitted to attend trials.
While the location of trials is still to be announced, trials athletes will arrive on May 31, quarantine through June 2 and take the court on June 3.
The traditional trials format will be adjusted to include regular practices with scrimmages each session during the first four days of training camp. The 12 selected team members, who will be identified on June 6, will remain at training camp until departing for the competition in Chile.
In addition to Callan, the USA Basketball Developmental National Team Committee includes: athlete representatives Tamika Catchings and DeLisha Milton-Jones; AAU appointee Kevin Lynch; NFHS appointee Jill Schneider; and at-large representatives Kirsten Moore and Mia Smith.
A biennial event launched in 2009 and open to athletes 16 years old or younger, the FIBA Americas U16 Championship features eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. The USA Basketball women claimed the gold medal in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019 and the bronze medal in 2015 and are 30-1 in FIBA Americas U16 Championship action.