KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee seniors Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared have been named to the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team. The squad was announced Friday afternoon following a grueling five-day training camp, held July 31-Aug. 4 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The 12-member team, which will continue training at the USOTC through Aug. 7 before departing, will represent the USA in the inaugural U23 Four Nations Tournament in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 12-15. Other participants in the round-robin tourney include Australia, Canada and Japan.
Leading the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U23 National Team will be Jeff Walz of Louisville as head coach, with Courtney Banghart of Princeton and Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky as assistants.
A 6-foot-6 redshirt senior center from Springfield, Oregon, Russell 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.
Russell has won three previous gold medals in USA play. The UT post player captured gold medals at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, and she won her third at the 2015 World University Games. Nared, meanwhile, is participating on her first USA team.
“I’m so proud of Mercedes and Jaime for making this team,” Lady Vol Head Coach Holly Warlick said. “There were 36 elite-level players vying for only 12 spots, and the competition for those positions was extremely fierce. The fact they both were selected speaks volumes about the work they put in during the offseason as well as the desire, effort, skills and attitude they displayed during the training camp. This experience will not only be good for them, but it also will be beneficial to our team during the coming season.”
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