2002 USA World Championship Women's Basketball Qualifying Team Finalized

July 9, 2002

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Highlighted by USC junior forward and 2000 USA Basketball Junior National Team member Ebony Hoffman, the final 12-member 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team was announced today by USA Basketball. The squad, which includes five players boasting of previous USA Basketball international experience, was selected by the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee. A total of 16 finalists who were announced on May 20 following three days of USA Basketball Trials, began training on July 7 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The USA squad is preparing for the inaugural Confederation of Pan American Basketball Associations (COPABA) World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Tournament that will feature eight nations competing July 17-21 for a trio of Americas Zone berths into the 2003 World Championship For Young Women. The USA Basketball Young Women's National Team will train through July 11 in Colorado Springs, and July 12-16 in Americana and Ribeir�o Preto, Brazil.

'I really like this group, I like their enthusiasm, ' said USA and Texas Tech University head coach Marsha Sharp. 'I think that we have a lot of great ingredients. We're really balanced and we have a little bit of everything that we need. We have some great shooters, we have some penetrating guards and we have some big and athletic post players, as well as some post players who can shoot it with a little bit of range. I thought the committee did a really nice job of giving us a lot of different options. That's something that will be important to us when we get down there so now, depending on how we're defended against, we'll have a lot of different choices.'

The final 12-member U.S. squad includes: Kara BrownBraxton (Georgia / Jackson, Mich.); Shameka Christon (Arkansas / Hot Springs, Ark.); Ebony Hoffman (USC / Harbor City, Calif.); Laurie Koehn (Kansas State / Hesston, Kan.); Kelly Mazzante (Penn State / Montoursville, Pa.); Amber Obaze (Louisiana Tech / Dallas, Texas ); Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State / Clay Center, Kan.); Jia Perkins (Texas Tech / Granbury, Texas ); Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.); Heather Schreiber (Texas / Windthorst, Texas); Stacy Stephens (Texas / Winnsboro, Texas ) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota / Hutchinson, Minn.).

The four finalists not selected for the team, including Jaqueline Batteast (Notre Dame / South Bend, Ind.); Steffanie Blackmon (Baylor / Dallas, Texas); Vanessa Hayden (Florida / Orlando, Fla.) and Amber Jacobs (Boston College / Clarks Summit, Pa.), were named alternates and could be called upon to represent the United States in the event of an injury prior to the start of competition.

Hoffman teamed up with Pondexter and Koehn in 2000 to aid the U.S. to a 5-0 mark and a gold medal finish at the Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament in Argentina.

Assisting Sharp on the sidelines are collegiate head coaches Nikita Lowry of New Mexico State University and Lisa Stone of Drake University (Iowa).

The U.S. team members will practice twice a day, at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., on July 9 and 10 before hosting their final Colorado Springs practice session beginning at 9:00 a.m. on July 11. Following the Colorado Springs training camp, the USA is scheduled to continue its training in Ribeir�o Preto with practices on July 12 and 13. As a tune-up for the COPABA qualifying event, the U.S. squad will play a pair of exhibition games, the first will be against the Brazil Young Women National Team on July 14 (time TBD) in Ribeir�o Preto. The U.S. will face the Brazil Senior National Team the following night onJuly 15 in Americana at 8:00 p.m. in the second game of a double-header which features the Brazil and Canada young women's squads playing in the opener at 6:00 p.m.

Hosted by Brazil in Ribeir�o Preto July 1721 and featuring eight young women national teams from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean, the top three nations will qualify for the inaugural International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Championship For Young Women, which is scheduled to be played in Dubrovnik, Croatia July 25 to August 3, 2003.The U.S. has been placed in Group A along with Argentina, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, while Group B consists of host Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. The preliminary round-robin games will kick-off with the USA facing Venezuela on July 17 (12:00 p.m., all game times are Brazil local time), followed by games against the Dominican Republic on July 18 (6:10 p.m.) and Argentina on July 19 (6:10 p.m.). The top two teams from each group will advance to the July 20 medal semifinals (6:10 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.) and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested July 21 at 10:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., respectively.

The USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee is chaired by University of Texas Senior Associate Athletics Director for Men's and Women's Athletics Chris Plonsky, and is comprised of NCAA appointees Gail Goestenkors (Duke), Donna Noonan (Vice President, NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship) and Willette White (Northeastern); NAIA appointee Stephanie Findley (Oklahoma Christian); NJCAA appointee Mary Ellen Leicht (Assistant Executive Director, NJCAA); WBCA appointee Muffet McGraw (Notre Dame); and athlete representatives Teresa Edwards, a fivetime Olympian, and 1992 Olympian Vickie OrrWiley.

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