Dawn Staley to Lead Experienced Staff into 2021 AmeriCup Action
2018-21 USA Basketball Women’s National Team head coach Dawn Staley has been tabbed to head up the 2021 USA AmeriCup Team coaching staff as the USA looks to earn a second-straight gold medal at the FIBA Americas event. Staley, who recently led her University of South Carolina team to the 2021 NCAA Final Four, will be assisted by University of Arizona head coach Adia Barnes, who took the Wildcats to the 2021 NCAA title game, as well as U.S. Olympic assistant coach Jennifer Rizzotti.
The USA team that will compete in the AmeriCup will be comprised of current collegiate athletes, and invitees to attend the April 18-21 team trials, held at the University of South Carolina, will be announced at a later date.
Ten nations from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean will take part in the 2021 AmeriCup, held June 11-19 in Puerto Rico. The top four finishing teams will advance to compete in one of four 2022 FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournaments in hopes of earning one of the 12 spots in the 2022 FIBA World Cup field. Australia, host of the 2022 World Cup, and the 2020 Olympic champion, earn automatic berths to the World Cup, but will be required to participate in the qualifying process.
“I am looking forward to working with Adia Barnes and Jen Rizzotti at the AmeriCup this summer,” said Staley, who also directed the 2019 USA AmeriCup squad to gold. “Adia Barnes has quickly proven herself to be one of the top coaches in our country, and Jen brings a wealth of international experience to the staff. I’m also excited to be able to work with a younger group of athletes this summer. It will not be unlike when I coached at the Pan Am Games, having a team of top college players who will be competing against seasoned veterans from across the Americas. It will be incredibly competitive, but with this coaching staff I am certain we’ll be able to properly train and prepare the USA to win the AmeriCup gold medal.”
With Staley at the helm, the USA Basketball National Team earned a 6-0 record and the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which qualified the USA for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 23 – Aug. 8 in Tokyo, Japan). She also helmed the USA National Team as it compiled a 6-0 exhibition slate in 2018.
Following her gold-medal leadership of the USA at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, Staley was named as the 2018 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. Staley also was a co-recipient of the 2015 National Coach of the Year award, and she is the first person in USA Basketball history to have earned both the USA Basketball National Coach of the Year and USA Basketball Athlete of the Year (1994 and 2000) awards.
With Staley a USA assistant coach at the 2016 Olympic Games, the USA won a sixth-straight Olympic gold medal, and she was on the roster for five of those titles -- three times as an athlete (1996, 2000, 2004) and twice as an assistant coach (2008, 2016).
In all, as a USA Basketball head or assistant coach, Staley has helped USA teams to a 99-4 (.961 winning percentage) record, while collecting nine gold medals and one bronze medal.
“I am incredibly honored to represent the United States and assist coach Dawn Staley and USA Basketball for the 2021 AmeriCup,” said Barnes, who in 2020-21 coached the Wildcats to a 21-6 record and was a finalist for the 2021 WBCA Coach of the Year honors. “This has been a basketball dream of mine and I can’t wait to represent my country. The opportunity to work alongside coach Staley and coach Rizzotti and the most talented basketball players in the world is an honor. I cannot wait to get in the gym with these athletes and represent USA Basketball with pride.”
The fastest coach in Arizona history to notch 75 victories, Barnes launched her head coaching career at Arizona in 2016-17 and quickly made an impact. Arizona’s all-time leading scorer as a player, Barnes took over a program without a winning record in five years (since 2010-11) and in her third season posted a 24-13 record and captured the WNIT championship. She had her team poised to advance to the 2020 NCAA Tournament, but the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
In five seasons directing Arizona, Barnes owns a, 89-66 slate, which improves to 69-26 (.726 winning percentage) when factoring in just the past three seasons.
Barnes began her coaching career as an assistant coach for the University of Washington, where in five seasons (2011-12 through 2015-16), she helped the Huskies to a 110-61 record, five trips to the postseason and the 2016 Final Four.
“I'm very excited to be a part of the AmeriCup staff with both Dawn and Adia,” said Rizzotti, who began coaching for USA Basketball in 2006 and was the 2011 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. “It will be very valuable for Dawn and me to have the opportunity to see the national teams from Canada and Puerto Rico in person so close to the Olympics. Preparation for our opponents is a big key to success when we don't have as much time as other countries to prepare together.”
A member of seven previous USA Basketball coaching staffs, former George Washington University head coach Rizzotti was named on June 20, 2019, as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 USA Basketball Women's National Team through the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Rizzotti served as an assistant coach to the 2018 USA World Cup Team that captured gold in Tenerife, Spain, and qualified the USA for the 2020 Olympics, and in 2019 she was on the sideline as an assistant for the USA AmeriCup Team that captured the gold medal with a 6-0 mark in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She returned to the USA National Team sideline for one more exhibition game in 2020, a win against her alma mater, the University of Connecticut.
Rizzotti served as an advance scout/court coach for the gold-medal winning 2016 U.S. Olympic and 2014 USA World Cup teams, and she also served as court coach during USA National Team training camps from 2014-17.
Rizzotti began coaching with USA Basketball as an assistant for the 2006 USA U18 National Team that claimed gold and as a head coach led the 2010 USA U18 National Team and 2011 USA U19 World Cup Team to gold medals. As an athlete, Rizzotti was a member of the 1996 USA R. William Jones Cup that earned the gold medal with a 9-0 slate.
The USA has played in five previous FIBA AmeriCups, historically used as a qualifier for an Olympics or FIBA World Cup, including 1989, 1993, 1997, 2007 and 2019. The U.S. has captured three gold medals and one silver medal, while compiling a 24-7 all-time record. In the two most recent AmeriCups in which the USA has copeted, the U.S. women were a perfect, 11-0 and won a pair of gold medals.
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior and Senior National Team Committees, due to the nature of the event, combined efforts to identify the coaching staff and athletes, who will be announced at a later date, for the 2021 USA AmeriCup Team.
The USA Senior National Team Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Women’s National Team director Carol Callan; and includes 2009-16 USA National Team head coach Geno Auriemma, head coach at the University of Connecticut; WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin; WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith, assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx.
The USA Junior National Team Selection Committee is chaired by Rizzotti, who recused herself during discussions for her assistant coach position; Temple University head coach Tonya Cardoza; 2008 Olympic gold medalist and Duke University head coach Kara Lawson; and North Carolina State University head coach Wes Moore.