Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi lead a talent-laden crop of 29 players chosen on Thursday for the National Team pool. All players have previous international experience with USA Basketball and have combined to win 100 gold, two silver and four bronze medals. Bird and Taurasi are two of the most influential, celebrated, accomplished and transcending ballers in the history of the sport.
Eleven members of the 2016 Olympic team that won a sixth consecutive gold medal for the Americans are in the group.
“Our strength has always been [that] our best players play over and over. Our veteran players want to play,” U.S. national team director Carol Callan said. “They appreciate representing our country and being part of the USA Basketball culture. We’ve selected athletes that are a mix of young with the older players. We cover each position well.”
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The U.S. already has qualified for next year’s FIBA World Cup, which will be held in Spain. While the veteran stars of the WNBA have driven Team USAs international hoops dominance over the past decade, youth is still being infused into the team as to ensure a smooth transition of power for the next Olympics team, which will surely look much different than the ones we have had over the last decade.
There are five college players in the pool: UConn’s Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson, South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson, Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell and Louisville’s Asia Durr.
For some reason, womens hoops icon Candace Parker, who helped Team USA win gold medals in 2008 and 2012, is being snubbed from the Olympic squad again.
That is sure to raise some eyebrows as Parker had another sensational season and led the Sparks back to the WNBA Finals.
“We generally don’t talk about players that aren’t here because there’s a variety of reasons why they aren’t,” Callan said. “She’s one of them. We choose not to try to speak for them. I would simply suggest you ask her. Candace has been an important part of our program over the years, and we talked about the decision when she didn’t make the Olympic roster. I don’t want to speak for her or try to verbalize.”
Even without Parkers presence Team USA will be loaded and highly-favored against any team they encounter.