COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — University of Tennessee women’s basketball signee Evina Westbrook is among 33 of the nation’s top players vying for a spot on the roster of the U.S. U19 FIBA World Cup for Women team.
Westbrook and the others have accepted invitations to attend the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup Team trials May 18-21 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee. Athletes eligible for this team must be 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1998) and U.S. citizens.
“These athletes represent the top talent our country has to offer at this age level,” said George Washington University head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, chair of the selection committee. “This is a very versatile group that will give the coaching staff a lot of options. They are all tough competitors, and it is not going to be easy for us to pare it down to the final 12-member team. The committee feels we will be able to select from this group a team that will represent the USA well on and off the court, and these athletes have what it takes to win a seventh-straight gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Cup.”
University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, who led the 2016 USA U18 National Team to gold, will lead the USA U19 World Cup Team and will again be assisted by collegiate head coaches Kamie Ethridge from the University of Northern Colorado and Charlotte Smith from Elon University. Additionally, Georgetown University head coach Natasha Adair and Drake University head coach Jennie Baranczyk will serve as court coaches during the trials.
Six-time defending U19 gold medalists, the United States will look to make it seven gold medals in a row at the July 22-30 event in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy.
Including the nine athletes from the 2016 USA U18 National Team, a total of 24 athletes on the trials roster boast of USA Basketball experience. Among them is Westbrook, who was a member of that gold medal-winning squad in 2016.
Westbrook, who was generally viewed as the No. 2-ranked prep recruit in 2017, averaged 24.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.4 blocks per game as a senior at South Salem High School in Salem, Oregon. The 6-foot guard was named the 2017 Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year as well as garnering All-America accolades from McDonald’s, WBCA, USA TODAY, Naismith and MaxPreps among others.
FIBA U19 World Cup for Women
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, FIBA changed the names of its age-based world championships in 2005 to reflect the age of eligibility, and recently updated the names of all of its world championships to world cups. The tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA in 2005 modified its calendar and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year. USA women’s teams are 73-12 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record.
The draw to determine the preliminary round was held Feb. 1. The USA was placed in Group A and will open against Mali on July 22, face China on July 23 and cap the preliminary round against host Italy on July 25.
Drawn into Group B were Egypt, Puerto Rico, Russia and Spain; Group C includes Canada, France, Latvia and South Korea; while Group D features Australia, Hungary, Japan and a nation from the Americas to be determined by FIBA at a later date. Brazil claimed bronze at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship to qualify for this summer’s U19 tournament. However, the Brazil Basketball Federation has since been suspended by FIBA.
Following the preliminary round, teams will be seeded according to group play, and all participating teams will advance to the July 26 round of 16. Winners will advance to the July 28 medal quarterfinals, while the remaining teams will continue playing out for classification. The medal semifinals will be held July 29, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 30.