Sue Phillips and Tom McConnell Added as USA Women’s U16 National Team Coaches
Two-time gold medalist USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty/San Jose Cagers) will lead the 2021 USA Women’s U16 National Team, and Tom McConnell, the head women’s basketball coach at Indiana University Pennsylvania, has been added as an assistant coach. Sophia Witherspoon (Fort Pierce Central H.S., Fla.) also is an assistant coach.
Adrienne Shibles, who previously had been announced as head coach no longer is able to take part after taking the head coaching position at Dartmouth College. Katie Gearlds, who was announced as an assistant coach, no longer is able to do so after becoming the Purdue University women’s basketball associate head coach.
The USA team will compete at the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, where the top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup. The eight teams taking part include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States.
“We are happy for Adrienne and Katie in their new positions,” 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. “The committee has selected an experienced coach with Sue, and Tom brings experience in the women’s game and a record of success. We are confident they and Sophia not only will work well together, they also will be able to inspire this group of young athletes during trials, training camp and the competition.”
Phillips led the 2013 USA U16 team to gold at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2014 USA U17 World Cup Team to gold at the FIBA U17 World Cup in the following summer.
Currently in her 28th year as the girls basketball coach and math teacher at Archbishop Mitty, she owns an amazing 722-132 career record (as of May 8, 2021) and has led teams to six California Interscholastic Federation state championships.
In 2018, she led her team to a USA Today No. 1 national ranking and was named National High School Coach of the Year by Naismith and the WBCA. In 2019, Phillips served as the McDonald’s All-American head coach and received the Gatorade Coaching Excellence Award.
In 2019-20, Phillips and Archbishop Mitty had won the NorCal Championship and was set to compete in the CIF Open Division state finals before the COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to their season.
Mitty currently is playing in its 2021 girls basketball season, which began in April and runs through May.
“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to have the opportunity to coach USA Basketball again,” Phillips said. “I am extremely grateful and can’t wait to get to work.”
McConnell will serve in his first USA Basketball coaching assignment as an assistant coach for the 2021 USA U16 National Team.
“It's just an amazing opportunity to be able to work with some of our country's finest coaches and most outstanding players, what an honor,” McConnell said. “My thought is, like they always say, this is a dream come true, but this is so amazing that I think this is something that I could never even have dreamed of. It’s just a blessing. I feel honored to be considered, and it’s a privilege. I'm really looking forward to serving coach Phillips and our players and helping them make this one of the most meaningful experiences of their life.”
He has been the head women’s basketball coach at Indiana University Pennsylvania since 2013-14, and he will enter his eighth season in 2021-22. In his seven seasons at IUP, he owns a 176-41 record (.811 winning percentage).
Including seven seasons as the men’s basketball coach at Saint Francis University (Pa.) from 1992-93 to 1998-99, he owns a career head coaching record of 261-146 (.641) over 14 seasons.
While the 2020-21 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McConnell in 2019-20 led his team to a 28-3 record, a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division regular season championship and a No. 1 seed into the NCAA Division II Tournament.
He has earned Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Coach of the Year honors in 2018, 2019 and 2020, which is a conference record, and he has led his teams to the 2018 and 2019 NCAA Division II national semifinal games.
Players eligible for the 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 2005.
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 applied to attend. The application process is closed, and the trials roster is still to be announced.
Due to safety precautions, media will not be permitted to attend trials. USA Basketball will provide media with photos and b-roll to assist in coverage of the trials.
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.