September 12, 2022 

What Angel McCoughtry’s return to USAB training camp meant for her

McCoughtry returns to the court with Team USA after abbreviated 2022 WNBA season

Angel McCoughtry didn’t make the cut for the World Cup team, but perhaps there wasn’t a more inspiring story in training camp. USA Basketball announced on Sunday that the future Hall of Famer, who turned 36 on Saturday, would not be continuing in its pre-World Cup training camp in Las Vegas.

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McCoughtry was the only one of the two dozen athletes in camp without a WNBA team at the moment, with the exception of the University of South Carolina’s Aaliyah Boston. McCoughtry does own, however, two Olympic gold medals and two from the World Cup in her collection.

A variety of injuries limited McCoughtry to three WNBA games the past two seasons, despite averaging more than 18 points per game for her career. She tore her ACL before the 2021 season with the Aces, playing in one game ceremonially when returning to her longtime team in Atlanta, and played in two games with the Lynx to start this year before agreeing to a contract divorce. She also missed the 2017 and 2019 seasons with injury-related issues.

“It’s a mental journey more than anything,” McCoughtry said of her injuries. “But the beauty of it is the comeback. You keep grinding at it. I compare myself to Klay Thompson. He was out for two years, and I was out for two years, so I would like to mimic his situation.”

USA coach Cheryl Reeve was highly positive on McCoughtry mid last week. She is also the coach of the Minnesota Lynx, where McCoughtry had her disappointing separation to begin the season.

“Angel, much to our pleasure, is in great shape and looks good,” Reeve said. “Whatever she has done since her departure from Minnesota has worked. I am pleased she wants to play USAB. There is an evolution from her injury, but good for her.”

What was the key that propelled McCoughtry back to this level?

“Rest,” she said confidently. “I think rest is underrated – to rest your body, your mind, your soul. I was really interested to see how I looked against the younger girls. My quickness looked great, my athleticism, I am really pleased with how I looked. I wanted to see where I was, being on the hard court against competition again. It’s good to feel that feeling again, it’s a feeling of working hard and accomplishment from working hard.”

Many of the younger players in training camp took note of McCoughtry. Recently-named WNBA Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, like McCoughtry 13 years earlier, was a No. 1 overall draft pick for the Atlanta Dream.

“She’s been looking after us from day one, and she is the voice we need to hear from,” Howard said. “She definitely sets a good example for us.”

While Howard and her draft classmates Shakira Austin and NaLyssa Smith might be filling up the box score on a regular basis, McCoughtry was the most-experienced athlete in camp. She was on the U.S. teams from the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in the Czech Republic and Turkey. She also won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Rio, while still a student at Louisville.

McCoughtry was nearly disqualified from FIBA competitions. She left the Turkish team, Galatasaray, early because she felt she wasn’t getting enough treatment for her injury. Afterwards, she lost a lawsuit in court and had to pay for her own medical treatment. FIBA later ruled that until she paid the money, she was ineligible for its events. McCoughtry said that she was cleared to play in the World Cup, had she made the team.

The Las Vegas training camp concludes on Monday. Twelve players will be selected to play on the team in the World Cup, which begins on Sept. 22 in Sydney.

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Written by Scott Mammoser

Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 90 countries.

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