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A'ja Wilson Invited to USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team Trials
Women's Basketball  . 

A'ja Wilson Invited to USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team Trials

May 7, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – University of South Carolina signee A’ja Wilson (Hopkins, S.C./Heathwood Hall) is one of 28 players who will attend the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s Basketball U18 National Team Trials, USA Basketball announced today. A total of 12 athletes with prior USA Basketball experience highlight the group of 18-and-unders who accepted invitations to participate in the trials, scheduled to be held May 24-26 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. From the trials, a 12-member team will be selected to compete under the leadership of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley in the USA Basketball-hosted 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship at the USOTC from Aug. 6-10. Invitations were issued by the US Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, chaired by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga head coach Jim Foster.

“I think we have a group of players that will allow us to choose a very representative team for this qualifying tournament,” said Foster. “Anytime you can combine a team that has players who have won a gold medal and players who aspire to do so, it’s a good combination in terms of preparing for the future. You’re always adding to the mix and creating new opportunities for young players to advance and have opportunities to win gold medals and potentially continue to become Olympians.”

Athletes invited to participate in the USA U17 National Team Trials are also eligible for selection to the USA U18 National Team and may be asked to contend to be a part of the 12-member roster.

The six trials sessions will be held in Sports Center 1, with two sessions on May 24, starting at 11:00 a.m. (all times are MDT) and 4 p.m. The May 25 sessions tip-off at 10:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; while on May 26, trials will begin at 9 a.m. a nd 3:30 p.m., followed by the U18 team announcement that evening. 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. “Looking at the list of players who will be at the trials makes me so happy that I am not on the committee,” said Dawn Staley, USA U18 National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “To be able to get this group of talented players down to 12 and maybe three alternates is going to be a challenge in itself. I hope I can play a small role of putting all the players in a position to play their best basketball and to give the committee a hard challenge to get this group down to just 12.

“I’m looking forward to working with some of the best talent in our country. They’re young. They’re driven. They are talented. They are hopefully future Olympians who we can help grow in USA Basketball at the international level to where one day they can live out some dreams that I’ve lived out in becoming an Olympian. It all starts with these younger teams.”

Headlining the list of invitees are USA Basketball gold medalists Receé Caldwell (Homeschooled / San Antonio, Texas); Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S / Pearland, Texas); and Wilson.

Also scheduled to attend the USA U18 National Team Trials are: Lyneé Belton (The Bullis School / Clinton, Md.); Monique Billings (Santiago H.S. / Corona, Calif.); Sierra Calhoun (Christ the King H.S. / Brooklyn, N.Y.); Batouly Camara (Blair Academy / New York, N.Y.); Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy / O’Fallon, Mo.); Mikayla Cowling (St. Mary’s College H.S. / Benicia, Calif.); Sophie Cunningham (Rock Bridge H.S. / Columbia, Mo.); LaJahna Drummer (Long Beach Poly H.S. / Inglewood, Calif.); Kortney Dunbar (Edwardsville H.S. / Edwardsville, Ill.); Katelynn Flaherty (Metuchen H.S. / Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.); Jamasha `Meme’ Jackson (Blackman H.S. / Murfreesboro, Tenn.); Jazmine Jones (Florida A&M H.S. / Tallahassee, Fla.); Moné Jones (Riverside H.S. / Durham, N.C.); Paris Kea (Greensboro Page H.S. / Greensboro, N.C.); Kyra Lambert (Samuel Clemens H.S. / Schertz, Texas); 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.); Ali Patberg (Columbus North H.S. / Columbus, Ind.); Cierra Porter (Rock Bridge H.S. / Columbia, Mo.); Jessica Shepard (Fremont H.S. / Freemont, Neb.); Azura Stevens (Cary H.S. / Raleigh, N.C.); Destinee Walker (Lake Highland Prep School / Ocoee, Fla.); and Stephanie Watts (Weddington H.S. / Wesley Chapel, N.C).

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). Jackie Carson (Furman University) and Stefanie Pemper (U.S. Naval Academy) will serve as court coaches during the U18 trials.

In all, and including the three gold medalists, there are 12 athletes with prior USA Basketball experience among the trials participants.

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.

Belton, Calhoun, Cowling, Drummer, Moore and Turner participated in the 2011 USA U16 National Team Trials; Belton, Calhoun, Drummer and Wilson were on the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials roster; and Drummer was moved up from the 2012 U17 trials to compete in the 2012 USA U18 National Team trials.

Last summer Cunningham, Collier and Porter’s Primus team finished in second place at both the 2013 USA Basketball 3×3 National Championship and USA 3×3 U18 National Championship; while Dunbar was a member of the Black Venom squad that finished in third place at the 2013 USA 3×3 U18 National Championship.

The major 2014 National High School Girls Basketball Player of the Year awards were split between 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: Cunningham (Missouri), Mompremier (Florida), Shepard (Nebraska) and Wilson (South Carolina).

Turner headlined the 2014 USA Today All-USA first team, which also featured Wilson; while Calhoun was an All-USA second team selection. Calhoun and Turner joined Wilson on the 2014 WBCA High School All-America Team, while 2014 WBCA High School All-America honorable mention went to Cowling, Moore and Stevens.

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

Belton, Calhoun, Moore and Wilson teamed up to help the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game East Team to a 65-58 victory over the West Team that included Caldwell, Cowling, Drummer and Turner.

The 28 athletes hail from 13 states, with California, North Carolina and Texas being represented by four athletes each; Florida and Missouri list three; New Jersey and New York each have two athletes on the list; while Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Carolina have one apiece.

A total of 13 athletes will graduate high school this year, 12 will graduate in 2015 and one athlete is a rising junior who will graduate in 2016. At 6-foot-7, McCowan lists as the tallest on the roster and Flaherty is the shortest at 5-foot-7. The oldest is Stevens, who was born on Feb. 1, 1996, while the youngest is Watts, born on April 16, 1997.

In addition to Foster, members of the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee include 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.