The USA Basketball Women’s National Team will return to the basketball court in a four-day minicamp, Feb. 4-7, at the University of South Carolina. The team last gathered for training camp one year ago in February 2020.
A total of 19 athletes, including Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup gold medalists Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) will participate in training alongside fellow USA National Team members Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks), Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever), Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever), Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings), Katie Lou Samuelson(Dallas Wings) and Sydney Wiese (Los Angeles Sparks).
Additionally, Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky), who started all 22 games and averaged a team second-best 14.8 points and third-best 5.5 rebounds per game for the Sky in 2020 has accepted an invitation to participate in the training camp in hopes of being named to the USA National Team pool in the future.
“It’s been a year since we’ve been together for a training camp, and I’m excited to step back on the court with the USA National Team,” said USA and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “We’ve got a great mix of veteran leadership and younger players, most of whom know how I run practices, and I anticipate we’ll have four extremely competitive days of practice here in South Carolina. We’re missing a few pieces of the puzzle, we have 36 players in our pool, but it will be incredibly helpful in our preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.”
“USA Basketball has worked closely with health experts and the University of South Carolina to develop a safe, secure and controlled environment for this training camp,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO. “We’re excited to be able to have the opportunity to continue our USA National Team’s preparations for the Olympics, and we’re confident we have a solid plan in place that will help protect the health and safety of all the athletes, coaches, and staff.”
The U.S. squad will train each day beginning at 10 a.m. EST. However, due to COVID-19 precautions, no media or guests will be allowed to view practices. USA Basketball will provide media with images and broll for non-commercial, editorial use on a daily basis. Further, select athletes participating in the USA training camp will be available via video conference each day to assist media in covering the minicamp. The video conference schedule will be finalized prior to camp.
Comprehensive COVID-19 protocols will be utilized, including mandatory and regular COVID-19 PCR testing administered to participating athletes, coaches, officials and staff in accordance with FIBA and USA Basketball recommendations and CDC guidelines.
Assisting Staley on the sideline this summer in Tokyo and at the minicamp will be WNBA head coaches Dan Hughes(Seattle Storm) and Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx). George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, who also is an assistant coach for the national team, is unable to attend the February minicamp due to commitments to her collegiate team.
South Carolina assistant coach Lisa Boyer and Dallas Wings head coach Vickie Johnson will serve as court coaches during the four-day camp.
Prior to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics, the 2019-20 USA National Team owned a combined 17-1 record, which includes a 3-0 mark in Serbia at the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, a 3-0 record at the 2019 FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, a 5-1 slate in exhibition games in 2019 and 2020 against college teams and a 6-0 mark and gold medal at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup in Puerto Rico.
The USA National Team pool, from which the Olympic team will be selected, currently lists 36 of the nation’s top women’s basketball players. In addition to the above listed athletes, the 2021 USA National Team pool includes Seimone Augustus (Los Angeles Sparks), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles(Washington Mystics), Layshia Clarendon (New York Liberty), Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury), Asia Durr (New York Liberty), Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream), Kayla McBride(Las Vegas Aces), Angel McCoughtry (Las Vegas Aces), Chiney Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Odyssey Sims(Minnesota Lynx), Brittney Sykes (Los Angeles Sparks), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Jasmine Thomas(Connecticut Sun), Morgan Tuck (Seattle Storm) and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).
After last summer’s postponement, the 2020 Olympics, which will see 12 women’s basketball teams battling for gold, will be held July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. The USA women, which own a 66-3 all-time Olympic record, have captured the past six Olympic gold medals and currently are riding a 49-game winning streak that dates to the 1992 bronze medal game.