COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (January 8, 2020)—USA Basketball announced today that Las Vegas Aces players Kayla McBride, Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson will take part in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team’s next two games against collegiate opponents, January 27 at UConn (4 pm PT on ESPN2), and February 2 at Louisville (11 am PT on ESPN). In addition, Aces Assistant Coach Vickie Johnson is serving as the team’s court coach and scout during the winter.
Rounding out the current National Team roster are Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Layshia Clarendon, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Angel McCoughtry, Nneka Ogwumike, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi. Charles is available only for the Connecticut game and McCoughtry is available only for the Louisville contest.
“We are grateful to both the University of Connecticut and the University of Louisville for hosting our national team in a pair of significant games prior to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying games in Serbia,” said Carol Callan, USA Basketball Women’s National Team director and chair of the USA National Team Player Selection Committee. “We know that they both will give us an incredibly high level of competition, and their fans will have a great opportunity to see our team, including their alums, as well as watching a glimpse of what they can expect to see in Tokyo. We’re looking forward to a great environment, similar to what we had in all four of our games in November, and want to thank the fans in advance for coming to the games.”
Following the exhibitions at Connecticut and Louisville, the USA will continue preparations in its quest for a seventh-straight Olympic gold medal as participants in the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, February 6-9.
The U.S. was drawn into the Belgrade, Serbia, group and will face host Serbia on February 6, followed by Mozambique on February 8 and Nigeria on February 9. The top two finishing teams, aside from the Americans who have already earned a spot in the 2020 Olympic women’s basketball field, will earn an Olympic berth.
Competing in the games in Serbia will be Sue Bird, Diamond DeShields, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Sylvia Fowles, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Jewell Loyd, Nneka Ogwumike, Breanna Stewart, Diana Taurasi and Wilson.
“We’re excited to compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade,” added Callan. “The new competition system gives us opportunities to play against quality international teams in order for our team to continue in its preparation for Tokyo. The committee’s intention is to get a look at as many of the athletes in our pool as possible, and this gives us another chance to see more players in action.”
Dawn Staley (South Carolina) is the head coach of the 2020 USA National Team.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup and the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, are serving as the 2019-20 USA National Team assistant coaches.
Staley, due to commitments to her collegiate team, will not be available for the January and February training and competitions. Hughes and Reeve will serve as co-coaches for the above-listed competitions, and Rizzotti is able to join the USA bench for the contest at Connecticut before rejoining her GW squad.
Past USA Basketball teams ahead of the 1996, 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games competed against collegiate teams, and over the course of those three tours, the USA earned a 39-1 record competing against a combined total of 30 different NCAA Division I teams.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Olympics, is taking advantage of and participating in FIBA’s new Olympic qualification process, which began with the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup, where the U.S. finished 6-0 and captured gold on Sept. 29 in Puerto Rico and continued with the Nov. 14-17 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, where the USA posted a 3-0 record. Between the two FIBA events, the USA earned a 3-1 slate in exhibition games against college teams from Nov. 2-9, and heads into its game against Connecticut with a 12-1 overall mark.
The final FIBA segment is the February competition in which a total of 16 teams will compete in the four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments held in China, Belgium, France and Serbia. The USA, by virtue of winning the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, and host Japan already have secured berths into the 2020 tournament. The remaining 10 teams will qualify through the four tournaments.
Olympic Games Women’s Basketball Competition
Winners of the past six Olympic gold medals, the USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal, while compiling an all-time 66-3 record in Olympic play since women’s basketball was first introduced to the Olympic program in 1976.
In 2016, the most recent Olympic Games, the U.S. took the gold medal, while Spain captured silver and Serbia won bronze.
The 2020 Olympic competition will see a different tournament format launched in 2020. The 12 teams will be split into three groups of four teams apiece for preliminary play, held July 27-Aug. 3.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded, and the top two teams from each group and the two best third place teams, according to FIBA’s placement rules, will qualify for the medal round. In the medal round, teams will compete in a knockout bracket, with winners advancing from the Aug. 5 quarterfinals to the Aug. 7 semifinals. The gold medal game will be played on Aug. 9, on the morning of the 2020 closing ceremony.
About USA Basketball
Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and chaired by retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA national teams that compete in FIBA-sponsored five-on-five and 3×3 international competitions, as well as for some national competitions and for the development of youth basketball.
The USA Basketball Youth Development division is tasked with the development of youth basketball initiatives that address player development, coach education and safety, while promoting, growing, and elevating the game. USA Basketball is committed to providing youth throughout the country safe, fun and developmentally appropriate environments in which they can enjoy the game. Current USA Basketball youth initiatives include coach licensing and education; organization accreditation; coach academies; regional camps; youth clinics; open court programs; Women in the Game conferences; and the U.S. Open Basketball Championships.
Connect with USA Basketball at USAB.com and on Facebook (USABasketball and USABYouth), Twitter (@usabasketball, @USABYouth, @USAB3x3), Instagram (@USABasketball) and YouTube (usabasketball).