DeShields, Dolson Join USA Basketball Women’s National Team Training Camp Prior to FIBA World Cup

Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields and Stefanie Dolson have been invited to take part in training camp with the USA Basketball Women’s National Team this week in preparation for the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which will be held September 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.

The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team will train Sept. 3-5 in Columbia, South Carolina, with a roster headlined by a trio of World Cup gold medalists in Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks) and Odyssey Sims (Los Angeles Sparks); as well as former University of South Carolina All-Americans Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings), Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces); and current Gamecock Tyasha Harris.

Following two days of practice, the USA squad will compete in a Red-White intrasquad exhibition contest at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia on Sept. 5. Two-time defending World Cup gold medalists, the USA has completed three training camps over the past year, and the South Carolina camp marks the tip-off of the team’s final preparations for the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which will be held Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.

“I’m excited to get started next week,” said USA and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “Anytime you have veterans who have done this two, three, four or more years, people who have participated in World Cups and who are committed to coming back and playing, it gives the coaching staff a sigh of relief. So, we have a few veterans, and then we have some young players who may have an opportunity to experience their first World Cup, and I’m excited for them. These things are fluid, we’ll add more players as we go along. But, I know that whoever is here is extra committed to the task at hand, and that is winning a gold medal.

Of the 18 athletes participating in the training camp in hopes of being named to the 2018 USA World Cup Team, 12 are members of the USA National Team pool, while six are athletes who possess prior USA Basketball experience, and are expected to contend for future USA National Team rosters.

In addition to Charles, Gray, Harris, Tiffany Mitchell, Ogwumike, Sims and Wilson, athletes who have confirmed their participation in the USA training camp include: Layshia Clarendon (Connecticut Sun); Napheesa Collier (University of Connecticut); Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky); Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky); Ruthy Hebard (University of Oregon); Sabrina Ionescu (University of Oregon); Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever); Arike Ogunbowale (University of Notre Dame); Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces); Jessica Shepard (University of Notre Dame); and Morgan Tuck (Connecticut Sun).

The USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee issued invitations to attend the Sept. 3-5 camp to DeShields, Harris, Hebard, Ionescu, Ogunbowale and Shepard, who are not members of the 2018-20 USA National Team pool. However, all six have earned gold medals playing on USA Basketball junior teams, and are among some of the top, young athletes in the nation.

In addition to her two World Cup gold medals, Charles is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and will provide veteran leadership at the camp. Further, Ogwumike and Sims, who were members of the 2014 USA World Cup Team that captured gold and, along with Dolson, were among 25 finalists named for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team.

Traveling up the coast to Bridgeport, Connecticut, the USA continues its exhibition schedule with a 7 p.m. (EDT) game against Canada on Sept. 8 at Webster Bank Arena, and closes out its domestic tour against Japan at 7 p.m. on Sept. 10 at George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C. In addition to the USA’s exhibition games, Canada and Japan will square off at Webster Bank Arena at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7.

Members of the USA National Team pool who are participating in the 2018 WNBA playoffs will not be available for the beginning of the camp, but may be added at a later date. Those athletes include: Sue Bird (Seattle Storm); Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics); Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury); Tiffany Hayes (Atlanta Dream); Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm); Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm); Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream).

Prior to arriving in Tenerife, Canary Islands, for the World Cup, the USA will play in a four-team, international tournament in Antibes, France, Sept. 15-17, against Canada, France and Senegal.

The final 12-member 2018 USA World Cup Team will be selected by the USA Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee prior to the start of the World Cup.

Assisting Staley through the World Cup are Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), whose Seattle Storm is still in the WNBA playoffs and will join the team upon the conclusion of the Storm’s season, Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington).

As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2018-20 USA National Team roster will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2018 USA World Cup and 2020 U.S. Olympic teams, should the USA qualify to compete in Tokyo, will be comprised of players from the 2018-20 USA National Team.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team director Carol Callan chairs the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.