On the eve of departing for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021 in Puerto Rico, the roster for the USA AmeriCup Team was finalized and includes seven athletes who have captured an international medal playing for USA Basketball. The USA will depart on June 8 for the AmeriCup, which will be played June 11-19 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Named to the team were: Grace Berger (Indiana/Louisville, Ky.), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina/St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.), Jakia Brown-Turner (NC State/Oxen Hill, Md.), Veronica Burton (Northwestern/Newton, Mass.), Elissa Cunane (NC State/Summerfield, N.C.), Destanni Henderson (South Carolina/Fort Meyers, Fla.), Naz Hillmon (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.), Haley Jones (Stanford/Santa Cruz, Calif.), Diamond Miller (Maryland/Somerset, N.J.), Ashley Owusu (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.) and Sedona Prince (Oregon/Liberty Hill, Texas).
One of 13 finalists named after trials held April 18-21, NaLyssa Smith (Baylor/Converse, Texas), was not able to attend training camp due to an illness in her family.
“Coming into this portion of our training camp, we were anticipating having 13 players, and it’s unfortunate that NaLyssa is having a family issue. We pray for her family during this time,” said Dawn Staley (South Carolina), USA AmeriCup and National Team head coach. “We also want to congratulate the 12 players that are here that have been working extremely hard to make this basketball team. We have a great group, both on and off the court, that will certainly represent the red, white and blue well. Our goal is to win a gold medal, and that’s our focus.”
The top four finishing teams at the AmeriCup will advance to compete in one of four 2022 FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournaments, in hopes of earning one of the 12 spots in the 2022 FIBA World Cup.
“I think the group came back really ready to go, in good shape and really determined to be ready for the tournament,” said Jennifer Rizzotti (Connecticut Sun president), chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and an assistant coach for the USA AmeriCup and Women’s National Teams. “Our camp here has been competitive and spirited, and we’ve learned a lot and progressed a lot and I’m excited about the team we’re able to provide Dawn for this upcoming tournament.”
University of Arizona head coach Adia Barnes completes the USA AmeriCup staff.
Boston has earned four gold medals competing for USA Basketball; Hillmon, Howard and Miller each have won two gold medals; and Jones and Prince each earned one gold medal.
In 2019, Boston, Hillmon, Howard and Miller teamed up to help the USA claim gold at the FIBA U19 World Cup; Hillmon, Howard and Prince claimed gold at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18 Championship; Boston and Jones took home gold from the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup; and Boston and Miller helped the USA capture gold at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
Additionally, Henderson and Prince were on the bronze medalist USA team at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Cup; and Prince returned with a bronze medal from the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
In 3×3 action, Boston claimed gold at the 2018 Youth Olympics.
Ten nations from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean will take part in the 2021 FIBA AmeriCup. Games will begin on June 11, but the USA will open play on June 12 against Dominican Republic at 6:10 p.m. EDT (all games will be available on ESPN+). The USA will play Puerto Rico at 9:10 p.m. EDT on June 13, Venezuela at 6:10 p.m. EDT on June 14 and will wrap up the preliminary round against Argentina at 9:10 p.m. EDT on June 15.
The quarterfinals will be played on June 17, the semifinals on June 18 and the third-place and gold-medal games on June 19.
The USA has played in five previous FIBA AmeriCups, historically used as a qualifier for an Olympics or FIBA World Cup, including 1989, 1993, 1997, 2007 and 2019. The U.S. has captured three gold medals and one silver medal, while compiling a 24-7 all-time record. In the two most recent AmeriCups in which the USA has competed, the U.S. women were a perfect, 11-0 and won a pair of gold medals.
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior and Senior National Team Committees, due to the nature of the event, combined efforts to identify the coaching staff and athletes for the 2021 USA AmeriCup Team.
The USA Senior National Team Committee is chaired by USA Basketball Women’s National Team director Carol Callan; and includes 2009-16 USA National Team head coach Geno Auriemma, head coach at the University of Connecticut; WNBA head of league operations Bethany Donaphin; WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller; and three-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith, assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx.
The USA Junior National Team Selection Committee is chaired by Rizzotti, who recused herself during discussions for her assistant coach position; Temple University head coach Tonya Cardoza; 2008 Olympic gold medalist and Duke University head coach Kara Lawson; and North Carolina State University head coach Wes Moore.