Three Gold Medalists Return To Headline 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team

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Written By: prentice

Aja WilsonCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 26, 2014) – Following six trials sessions from May 24-26 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 12-member 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team was announced on Monday evening. The team, which was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee, will compete in the USA Basketball-hosted 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship at the USOTC from Aug. 6-10.
Headlining the USA squad is a trio of USA Basketball gold medalists, including Receé Caldwell (Homeschooled/San Antonio, Texas); Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S/Pearland, Texas) and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S./Hopkins, S.C.).  Joining their first USA Basketball team are: Ariel Atkins (Duncanville H.S./Duncanville, Texas); Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.); Paris Kea (Greensboro Page H.S./Greensboro, N.C.); Marina Mabrey (Manasquan H.S./Manasquan, N.J.); Teaira McCowan (Brenham H.S./Brenham, Texas); Beatrice Mompremier (Miami H.S./Miami, Fla.); Mariya Moore (Salesian H.S./Richmond, Calif.); Jessica Shepard (Fremont H.S./Fremont, Neb.); and Destinee Walker (Lake Highland Prep School/Ocoee, Fla.).
University of South Carolina head coach and three-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley, who also will serve as an assistant to the 2014 USA World Championship Team, is the 2014 USA U18 National Team head coach. Joining Staley on the USA U18 team sideline as assistants are collegiate head coaches Kim Barnes Arico (University of Michigan) and Jeff Walz (University of Louisville).
“We have a lot of strengths on this team,” said Jim Foster, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach and chair of the USA Junior National Team Committee. “We have some returning players from international competition and a nice blend of size and athleticism. This is a team the committee feels can be very representative of USA Basketball and the success we’ve had in the past.”
“I think it’s a great team,” said Staley, who in addition to her three Olympic gold medals as an athlete aided the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team to gold as an assistant coach. “To be quite honest, it was a great trials. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t take all 29 players, because they all brought something different to the table and could have very easily been on this basketball team. But, the 12 that they picked are very, very talented. They’re very versatile. I think they’ll perform well in our tournament, and I’m looking forward to working with them on a daily basis.”

Beginning with 28 athletes for the first three sessions, the trials featured 29 players after Crystal Dangerfield (Blackman H.S./Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was brought up from the 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials.

The 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, including: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. The top four finishing teams will qualify for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.

Players eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens born on or after Jan. 1, 1996.

In all, and including the three gold medalists, there are five athletes with prior USA Basketball experience among the U18 team members.

Caldwell won a gold medal with the 2011 USA U16 National Team at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship, while Turner and Wilson teamed up to aid the USA to gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. Turner has the most experience with USA Basketball as she also collected gold at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and owns a trio of 3×3 gold medals, winning at the 2012 and 2013 FIBA U18 3×3 World Championships and the 2013 FIBA Americas 3×3 U18 Championship.

Moore and Turner participated in the 2011 USA U16 National Team Trials, and Wilson was on the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials roster.

Last summer, Collier’s Primus team finished in second place at the 2013 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championship and the USA Basketball 3×3 U18 National Championship.

The major 2014 National High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year awards were split between Atkins, who was named the 2014 Morgan Wootten Award winner; Turner, who earned the nod from Gatorade and USA Today; and Wilson, who collected the Naismith, Parade Magazine and WBCA awards.

In addition to Turner, who also captured the Texas honor, receiving 2014 Gatorade State Player of the Year awards were: Mompremier (Florida), Shepard (Nebraska) and Wilson (South Carolina).

Turner headlined the 2014 USA Today All-USA first team, which also featured Wilson; while Atkins was an All-USA second team selection. 

Atkins and Turner joined Wilson on the 2014 WBCA High School All-America Team, while 2014 WBCA High School All-America honorable mention went to Moore.

Wilson was joined on the 2014 Parade Magazine All-American Team by Atkins and Turner.

Atkins and Moore help the 2014 SchollyMe All World Game White Team to an 97-92 victory over SchollyMe Team Black in Los Angeles, CA. 

Moore and Wilson teamed up to help the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game East Team to an 80-78 victory over the West Team that included Atkins, Caldwell and Turner.

In addition to Foster, the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee includes NCAA appointees Melanie Balcomb (Vanderbilt University), Lindsay Gottlieb (University of California) and Joi Williams (University of Central Florida); and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson serves as the athlete representative.

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