COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Following five trials sessions held May 19-21 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC), the 12-player 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team was selected by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee.
Incoming Tennessee freshman Bashaara Graves, a 6-foot-2 forward from Clarksville (Clarksville H.S.), is among those making the 12-member squad.
“I am so proud of Bashaara for making the U18 National Team,” Lady Vol Head Coach Holly Warlick said. “She has worked so hard to get to this point, it is so nice to see her effort and commitment paying off. She has a tremendous work ethic and will be an outstanding representative for the University of Tennessee and USA Basketball.”
“It really was a difficult decision with all of the talent on the court,” said committee chair Sue Donohoe, executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. “It’s not so much about taking the 12 best players, it’s taking the 12 players that can come together to make the best team. Throughout the trials some players stepped forward, some players stepped back, and then you just have to evaluate the whole process and find the 12 that can bring back a gold for the U.S.
“I think this team is strong in many facets. I think we will be very strong on the perimeter – we’ve got kids that can pull-up and shoot the jumper and kids that can put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. We are going to be strong in the paint. Really, I think we’ve put together a blend of kids that have a multitude of talents. Very athletic, very court-savvy and certainly in international play, that will be very helpful to us.”
“I love it; I think it’s an unbelievable roster with great balance,” said USA U18 National Team and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. “The committee did a fantastic job of really thinking through situations, scenarios and needs for an international game. What a great group of kids. I’m fired up.
“I think one thing that’s going to be great is the swing position. We’ve got nice length in the swing position, the three-fours are real long; we’ve got some great shooters. Then, some physicality in the post, with some point guards who push the tempo. So, it’s a dream roster for me. I’m really, really thrilled.”
The team will regroup at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., for its first training camp from May 28-June 1. The USA squad will then return to the USOTC for its final training camp Aug. 4-12, prior to traveling to Puerto Rico for the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
“It means a lot,” Graves said of being picked for the team. “I’m excited, and I’m kind of shaking right now. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m glad they picked me. I just did my best, and I made it.
Graves also shared what she hopes to bring to the table, in terms of helping the team win a gold medal.
“Rebounds and hard work,” Graves said. “Getting on the boards, basically, and getting up the floor. Everything I do, I just work hard with it.”
This won’t be Graves’ first international experience. She was a member of the USA U17 World Championship Team that captured the gold medal with a perfect 8-0 mark at the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship. In 2009, Graves was on the USA U16 National Team that won the gold medal and earned the USA’s berth to the 2010 U17 Worlds.
The U18 Championship, held in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19, will see the three medal-winning teams secure a berth in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women. The 2013 U19 Worlds will be hosted by Lithuania, July 18-28. The FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. Players eligible for this competition must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994.
The U.S. was drawn into Group A, along with Argentina, Columbia and the Dominican Republic; while Group B consists of Brazil, Canada, Mexico and host Puerto Rico. The USA will open play against the Dominicans on Aug. 15, followed by Argentina on Aug. 16 and close out preliminary play against Columbia on Aug. 17. The top two finishing teams from each group advance to the Aug. 18 medal semifinals, and the finals will be contested Aug. 19. The three medal-winning teams will qualify for the 2013 FIBA U19 Worlds.
Former Lady Vols Coaching U18 and U17 Squads
Former Lady Vol player, graduate assistant and assistant coach Nikki Caldwell, now head coach at LSU, will serve as an assistant on the coaching staff for the U18 squad.
Former Lady Vol player and graduate assistant Jill Rankin Schneider is the head coach of the USA Basketball’s 2012 Women’s U17 World Championship Team. A player at Tennessee in 1979-80 and a graduate assistant in 1980-81, she now coaches in the prep ranks in Texas.
Rankin Schneider will lead a USA squad that looks to defend its 2010 inaugural U17 title at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship on Aug. 17-26 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.