April 14, 2021
Howard, Boston and Smith highlight list of AmeriCup trials invitees
Three First Team AP All-Americans lead a star-studded cast
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First Team AP All-Americans Rhyne Howard (Kentucky), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina) and NaLyssa Smith (Baylor) highlight the list of AmeriCup trials invitees released on Wednesday by USA Basketball.
The 17 other players who will compete at the University of South Carolina for a spot on the roster are Grace Berger (Indiana), Jakia Brown-Turner (NC State), Rae Burrell (Tennessee), Veronica Burton (Northwestern), Zia Cooke (South Carolina), Elissa Cunane (NC State), Destanni Henderson (South Carolina), Naz Hillmon (Michigan), Ashley Joens (Iowa State), Haley Jones (Stanford), Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech), Diamond Miller (Maryland), Ashley Owusu (Maryland), Khayla Pointer (LSU), Sedona Prince (Oregon), Jenna Staiti (Georgia) and Hailey Van Lith (Louisville).
Only 12 of these 20 players will make the final roster.
Howard is considered by many to have No. 1 overall WNBA Draft-pick potential because of her ability to do it all on offense as a 6’2 guard. She is a two-time SEC Player of the Year, while Boston is a shot-blocking phenom and a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Smith nearly averaged a double-double this past season and was named Big 12 Player of the Year.
Jones, the 2021 Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, is a versatile offensive weapon looking to build on a stellar sophomore campaign.
Hillmon and Cunane were both Second Team AP All-Americans and Owusu made the Third Team. Hillmon is a dominant inside scorer who dropped 50 in a game last season and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Cunane is also gifted with inside touch and is one of the best true centers in the nation. Owusu was the leading scorer and distributor on the best offense in the country.
“The AmeriCup is a national level competition with some of the best players in the Americas,” said Team USA assistant coach Jennifer Rizzotti, who helped assemble the list of invitees. “Being a part of the staff in 2019 gave me a taste of the intensity level of this tournament and the Olympic-level players in it. We need to bring the best players available and that’s who our committee has worked to identify. Because we are unable to bring WNBA players, we will rely on the best returning college players. Obviously, this is a very talented group with good junior national team level USA Basketball experience, but they will learn quickly the difference when playing against pros. So, we’ll need to find the 12 players who are up to the challenge of helping us in our dual goal of claiming gold and advancing to the 2022 World Cup qualifying tournament.”
Dawn Staley of South Carolina is the head coach of the team, with Arizona’s Adia Barnes serving as the other assistant.
Boston, Hillmon, Howard, Joens, Miller, Van Lith, Prince, Smith, Cooke and Jones are all gold medalists from some point during their USA Basketball careers and have accounted for 21 gold medals.
Ten countries from North, South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, will compete in the AmeriCup from June 11 to June 19 in Puerto Rico. The top four nations will get the chance to play in a qualifying tournament for the 2022 FIBA World Cup.
Team USA has three gold medals in five AmeriCup appearances, including golds in its two most recent appearances (2007 and 2019).
The USA Basketball Women’s Junior and Senior National Team Committees selected the invitees.
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