May 6, 2015
COLUMBIA – University of South Carolina women’s basketball will send three student-athletes to trials for three different teams in May, USA Basketball announced today. Junior Tiffany Mitchell and sophomore Alaina Coates will vie for a spots on the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team and the 2015 USA Women’s World University Games Team. Freshman A’ja Wilson will compete for a place on the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team. Both trials will be held May 14-17 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
At the U19 World Championship Trials, Wilson joins five other members of the USA U18 National Team that earned the United States its seventh-straight gold medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship last summer, which gave the Americans their 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship berth. She will be one of 13 athletes at the trials who, having recently completed their freshman years of college, may also be considered for the 2015 USA Pan American Games and USA World University Games teams. Wilson is the only athlete at the trials who has competed at a FIBA U19 World Championship, having participated as the youngest member of the 2013 USA U19 squad that captured gold two years ago.
The 2015 FIBA U19 Worlds will be played in Chekhov, Russia, July 18-26 and will feature 16 teams with athletes 19 years old or younger. Once the 12-member USA squad is selected from the 34 trials participants, the team will regroup for training July 1-7 at the USOTC prior to traveling to Alicante, Spain, to compete in a round-robin tournament July 11-13 against U19 national teams from Australia, Canada and Spain.
Mitchell and Coates will be part of the 54-member trials to determine the United States’ 12-member squads for the Pan American Games and the World University Games. Both teams will be made up of U.S. citizens currently enrolled as full-time college students with remaining eligibility for the 2015-16 school year. Mitchell’s trip to Colorado Springs comes closely on the heels of her participation in U.S. Women’s National Team mini-camp, which wraps up today in Las Vegas. The May 14-17 trials will mark Mitchell’s fourth experience with USA Basketball as she brought home a gold medal from the 2014 FIBA 3×3 World Championships and took part in the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials. Coates returns to Colorado Springs for a USA Basketball trials for the second time, having participated in the 2011 Women’s U16 National Team trials as a high school sophomore.
The Pan American Games, a multi-sport event held every four years featuring teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, will take place in Toronto, Canada, with women’s basketball competition July 16-20. Those selected to the U.S. team will return to Colorado on July 3 to start training camp with head coach Lisa Bluder (Iowa) before departing for Toronto on July 8. The USA’s last gold medal at the event came in 2007, under the direction of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley.
The World University Games is held every other year as a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24 who are enrolled as a full-time college student with remaining eligibility for the following academic season. This year’s games will be held July 4-13 in Gwangju, South Korea. The U.S. team, led by head coach Joe McKeown (Northwestern), will return to Colorado Springs for training camp June 18-July 2 before departing for South Korea. The Americans have won gold medals in the past five World University Games in which it has competed (2001, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2013).