KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee’s Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared are among 40 elite collegiate athletes who have accepted invitations to attend the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team Training Camp.
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee issued the invitations for the camp, which will take place July 31-Aug. 4 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Russell, a 6-foot-6 redshirt senior center from Springfield, Oregon, is coming off a junior campaign that saw her average 16.1 points and 9.7 rebounds while tallying a UT junior-record 19 double-doubles. Nared, meanwhile, is a senior from Portland, Oregon, who carded 15.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per outing a year ago while logging nine double-doubles and hitting 20 or more points in eight games.
The 12-member team that will represent the USA in an inaugural U23 Four Nations Tournament for college-aged women this summer in Tokyo, Japan, is expected to be announced on Aug. 4. Players selected to the team will continue training at the USOTC through Aug. 7 before departing for Tokyo. Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens who are 23 years old or younger and currently are freshmen, sophomores or juniors in college.
Also taking part in training camp will be: Kristine Anigwe (California/Phoenix, Ariz.); Ariel Atkins (Texas/Duncanville, Texas); Monique Billings (UCLA/Corona, Calif.); Erin Boley (Oregon/Hodgenville, Ky.); Kalani Brown (Baylor/Slidell, La.); Lexie Brown (Duke/Suwanee, Ga.); Tyra Buss (Indiana/Mt. Carmel, Ill.); Jordin Canada (UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.); Natalie Chou (Baylor/Plano, Texas); Napheesa Collier (Connecticut/O’Fallon, Mo.); Sophie Cunningham (Missouri/Columbia, Mo.); Asia Durr (Louisville/ Douglasville, Ga.); Katelynn Flaherty (Michigan/Point Pleasant, N.J.); Channon Fluker (CSUN/Pasadena, Calif.); Rebecca Greenwell (Duke/Owensboro, Ky.); Linnae Harper (Ohio State/Chicago, Ill.); Myisha Hines-Allen (Louisville/Montclair, N.J.); Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon/Walnut Creek, Calif.); Marina Mabrey (Notre Dame/Belmar, N.J.); Tynice Martin (West Virginia/Atlanta, Ga.); Brooke McCarty (Texas/League City, Texas); Teaira McCowan (Mississippi State/Brenham, Texas); Brittany McPhee (Stanford/Normandy Park, Wash.); Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State/Cincinnati, Ohio); Mariya Moore (Southern California/Hercules, Calif.); Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame/Milwaukee, Wis.); Teniya Page (Penn State/Chicago, Ill.); Katie Lou Samuelson (Connecticut/Huntington Beach, Calif.); Jessica Shepard (Notre Dame/ Fremont, Neb.); Kristen Simon (Southern California/Gardena, Calif.); Destiny Slocum (Oregon State/ Meridian, Idaho); Azurá Stevens (Connecticut/Raleigh, N.C.); Hallie Thome (Michigan/Chagrin Falls, Ohio); Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State/Carthage, Miss.); Jatarie White (Texas/Charlotte, N.C.); Gabby Williams (Connecticut/Sparks, Nev.); A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.); and Jackie Young (Notre Dame/Princeton, Ind.).
“We are very excited about the group of players coming out to Colorado Springs for the U23 training camp,” said Jennifer Rizzotti, chair of the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee and head coach at George Washington University. “We believe they represent the best players returning to college basketball this coming season. There is depth at every position, and we anticipate a highly competitive camp. It’s important to recognize the young talent that has potential to be in the USA National Team pool in a few years. They will get invaluable experience during those five days and learn from some of the best on what it takes to progress to the highest levels of women’s basketball.”
Leading the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team will be Jeff Walz of the University of Louisville as head coach, with Courtney Banghart of Princeton University and Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University as assistant coaches.
Additionally, Geno Auriemma, 2009-16 USA Basketball Women’s National Team head coach and head coach at the University of Connecticut, will serve as the lead clinician during training camp, guiding all of the sessions except the team practices and games.
During training camp, athletes will take part in sessions dedicated to skill development and to understanding the culture of success that is an important aspect of playing for the USA Basketball Women’s National Team. Additionally, the participants will be divided into four teams that will compete in a round-robin tournament that results in semifinals and gold and bronze medal games.
Training camp begins on July 31 with a session at 5:45 p.m. (all times listed are MDT). On Aug. 1, training camp will continue at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., while Team 1 will play Team 2 at 4:30 p.m. and Team 3 will take on Team 4 at 6 p.m. Aug. 2 will begin with Team 1 versus Team 3 at 9:30 a.m. and Team 2 against Team 4 at 11 a.m., and after a training camp session at 3 p.m., Team 1 will play Team 4 at 5 p.m. and Team 2 will meet Team 3 at 6:30 p.m. On Aug. 3, the day will start with semifinal games at 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., followed by a training camp session at 12:30 p.m. and then one-hour team practices for each of the teams from 4-8 p.m. The final day of training camp on Aug. 4 will feature a bronze medal game at 8 a.m., a gold medal game at 9:30 a.m. and the official USA U23 National Team expected to be announced early that afternoon.
The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament, which will include the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan, will be a round-robin tournament played Aug. 12-15 in Tokyo (arena TBA).
The 2017 U23 Four Nations Tournament will provide meaningful competition and development opportunities. The USA’s participation in the tournament is intended to help further develop the USA Basketball athlete pipeline and to help prepare athletes for possible future participation in the USA Basketball Women’s National Team pool.
Russell is one of four players on the squad who has won three gold medals in USA play. The UT post player captured gold medals at the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, and she won her third at the 2015 World University Games. Nared, meanwhile, will be seeking her first opportunity to strike gold with USA Basketball.
In addition to Rizzotti, the USA Basketball Women’s Junior National Team Committee, which will select the 12-member roster for the U23 national team, also includes 2008 Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson Barling as the athlete representative, and NCAA representatives Karen Aston of University of Texas, Tonya Cardoza of Temple University, who was a member of the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival East Team, and Wes Moore of North Carolina State.