Featuring 14 athletes who have captured a combined 16 Olympic and 18 FIBA World Championship gold medals and a total of 27 of the nation's top women's basketball players, the USA Basketball Women's National Team will tip-off training for the 2016 Olympic Games with a mini-camp May 4-6 at UNLV's Mendenhall Center in Las Vegas. Included in the list of athletes are three who will participate in their first USA National Team training camp, including Jennifer Hamson (Los Angeles Sparks), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), who were invited to attend the camp by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee.
"The committee has watched these three athletes compete at a high level collegiately, and they are all talented players," said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women's National Team Director and chair of the selection committee. "We are always looking toward the future, and we feel that these camps not only help USA Basketball prepare for the next big event, which of course is the Olympic Games, but for competitions beyond 2016.
"Part of our success internationally has come from evaluating and training younger athletes in settings such as this camp. While we haven't had the opportunity to see Jen Hamson with USA Basketball, Tiffany and Jewell have won gold medals at the junior level, and based on their past experiences in college and with Jewell and Tiffany internationally, we wanted to see how they competed on the USA National Team level."
"I'm looking forward to next week's training camp," said USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma , who since being selected to coach the USA Basketball Women's National Team in 2009 has piloted the USA National Team to an overall 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships and the 2012 Olympic Games. "We are going to have a great mix of young athletes who are hungry for a spot on the team and many veterans who might need to work a little harder because of it.
"And of course we're bringing in three who could shake things up. I'm interested to see how Jen Hamson stacks up against some of our bigs, she's got some good size to add to our mix. And then Jewell Loyd and Tiffany Mitchell are two very talented guards, who I had the opportunity to see up close in games this year. They both gave my team a tough time, and I can't wait to see them working alongside players like Sue Bird and Lindsay Whalen. We have a lot of work to do in three days, but I honestly can't wait to get out to Vegas and get started."
Members of the 2014-16 USA Basketball Women's National Team expected to participate in the training camp, include: Jayne Appel (San Antonio Stars), Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Elena Delle Donne (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins (Tulsa Shock), Stefanie Dolson (Washington Mystics), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Bria Hartley (Washington Mystics), Briann January (Indiana Fever), Jantel Lavender (Los Angeles Sparks), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Seattle Storm), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Cappie Pondexter (Chicago Sky), Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Stars), Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock), Breanna Stewart (University of Connecticut), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago Sky) and Monica Wright (Minnesota Lynx).
Included on the training camp roster are three-time Olympic gold medalists Bird and Taurasi; two-time Olympic gold medalists Augustus, Fowles and Parker; 2008 Olympic gold medalist Pondexter; and Charles, McCoughtry and Moore, who helped the U.S. claim gold in 2012. Further, Bird is a three-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist; Charles, McCoughtry, Moore and Taurasi have captured two World Championship gold medals; Appel and Fowles earned gold at the 2010 Worlds; while Augustus, Griner, Ogwumike, Sims and Stewart earned a gold medal at the 2014 FIBA World Championship. Further, Augustus, Bird, Parker and Taurasi returned with a bronze medal from the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Selected by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2014 WNBA Draft, the 6-foot-7 Hamson was a two-sport athlete at Brigham Young University. She deferred playing in the WNBA for a year and returned to BYU to complete her eligibility in volleyball. She was the 2014 West Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year as a senior basketball player, while also being named a 2014 Associated Press (AP) All-American honorable mention and helped lead the Cougars to the 2014 NCAA Sweet 16. In her final season of volleyball in 2014, the two-time volleyball All-American first team selection led BYU to the NCAA title game.
The No. 1 pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft, Loyd is a two-time world champion with USA Basketball. She helped the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team collect gold with a perfect 8-0 record and returned this past summer as a member of the 2014 USA 3x3 World Championship Team that swept its competition for an unblemished 9-0 record and gold medal at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship. Helping Notre Dame to the NCAA Final Four in each of her three seasons, including the past two national championship games, the two-time All-American was the 2015 espnW National Player of the Year and was runner-up for the 2015 AP National Player of the Year and Wooden Award. She also earned 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and ACC Tournament MVP honors.
A teammate of Loyd's on the 2014 USA 3x3 World Championship Team and a participant in the 2010 USA U17 World Championship Team Trials, this will be Mitchell's third USA Basketball experience. Mitchell earned the 2015 Dawn Staley Award, presented by the Phoenix Club of Philadelphia to the nation's top guard who best defines the way Staley played the game. The two-time All-American and two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year has competed in three NCAA Tournaments and helped the Gamecocks advance to the 2014 NCAA Sweet 16 and the program's first NCAA Final Four in 2015.
Auriemma will be assisted through the 2016 Olympic Games by DePaul University's Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx' Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina's Dawn Staley.
Additionally, University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti will serve as a court coach and assist the USA National Team staff during the three-day camp.