USA U16 Women Ready to Begin Quest for Gold
Following a week of practices in Washington, D.C., and two additional practices in Guanajuato, Mexico, the 2021 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team is set to tip-off against Chile on Aug. 23 at 6:30 p.m. (all times EDT). The U.S., which is on a quest to claim the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship gold medal, will then take on host Mexico on Aug. 24 (9:30 p.m.) and conclude preliminary play against Argentina on Aug. 25 (7:30 p.m.).
“Training camp was fantastic,” said Sue Phillips, who is serving for a second time as the USA U16 National Team head coach after having led the 2013 USA U16 squad, which featured future WNBA players Asia Durr, Sabrina Ionescu and Katie Lou Samuelson, to gold. “Kudos to the team for putting together the work ethic and the mindset to stay locked in every day, to make each other better with better practices. The energy and spirit were off the charts.”
The tournament will see the top four finishing nations earn a berth into the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup. 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.
Also competing in the FIBA Americas U16 competition are Brazil, Canada Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
“I’m feeling really good and confident about our group being able to head into the competition and do our best,” Phillips added. “Obviously, gold is our goal – our end game. We look forward to the tournament.”
All 12 team members will be facing international competition for the first time with USA Basketball.
Athletes include two sets of high school teammates, Jadyn Donovan (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Kendall Dudley (Manassas Park, Va.), who play together at Sidwell Friends High School in Washington, D.C.; and Breya Cunningham (Chula Vista, Calif.) and Jada Williams (San Diego, Calif.), who will team up at La Jolla Country Day School in the fall after Williams transferred to the Southern California school over the summer.
Also competing on the USA U16 squad are KK Arnold (Germantown H.S./Germantown, Wis.); Madison Booker (Germantown H.S./Ridgeland, Miss.); Jaloni Cambridge (Ensworth H.S./Nashville, Tenn.); Maggie Mendelson (Fremont H.S./North Ogden, Utah); Olivia Olson (Benilde-St. Margaret's/New Hope, Minn.); Grace Slaughter (Grain Valley H.S./Grain Valley, Mo.); Delaney Thomas (St. John's College H.S./Charles Town, W.Va.); and JuJu Watkins (Sierra Canyon High School/Los Angeles, Calif.).
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded based on pool play and all eight teams will advance to the Aug. 27 quarterfinals. Semifinals will be played Aug. 28 and the bronze and gold medal games will be held on Aug. 29.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Tom McConnell (Indiana University Pennsylvania) and Sophia Witherspoon (Fort Pierce Central H.S., Fla.).
“This is a process still for us,” Phillips concluded. “We will continue to improve each game and I look forward to us peaking and playing our best basketball at the end of the tournament. As I said, our goal is to bring home the gold at the end of the week.