Perhaps no team in the world has a stronger mix of youth and experience than the U.S. women's national basketball team.
Equipped with both steady veterans, such as Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who will both be looking to claim their fifth straight gold, as well as talented first-timers like reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson and rising W star Jewell Loyd, the 12-person squad that will represent the United States at the Tokyo Games was released Monday.
The U.S. national team will enter the Tokyo Games as the tournament's favorites, having won each of the last six gold medals. Now, led by Hall of Fame South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, the group expects similar results.
“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” Staley said in a statement. "The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day."
Staley is not short on Olympic experience, having been an assistant for Team USA in 2008 and 2016 and previously winning three gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004) as a player.
She'll look to bring the most out of a supremely talented roster. But it's also one that also looks vastly different from the group that took home the gold five years ago.
Six of the 12 players from the 2016 Rio Olympics roster will not take part in the Tokyo games, including Maya Moore, who was No. 2 in scoring, No. 1 in assists and in three-way tie for most rebounds on that 2016 team, and Elena Delle Donne, who is still rehabbing a back injury.
Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike, who led Team USA in scoring in 2019–20, was among the biggest commissions Monday, perhaps, in part, due to her the knee sprain that has kept her out most of this year's WNBA season.
Instead, the team will feature a host of newcomers in Wilson, Loyd, Ariel Atkins, Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chelsea Gray.
Two-time WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart (whose résumé is already as decorated as anyone), seven-time All-Star and 2012 MVP Tina Charles, six-time All-Star and 2017 MVP Sylvia Fowles and six-time All-Star Brittney Griner will also anchor the group.
In appearing on this summer's team, Fowles, 36, will join an exclusive list that includes just six other U.S. basketball players who have competed in at least four Olympics.
"We are fortunate indeed to have this group representing us," said Martin Dempsey, chairman of the USA Basketball Board of Directors.
Including their combined 15 Olympic and 19 FIBA World Cup golds, players named to the team collectively own 60 gold medals.
The group will expect to take home another gold when the competition gets underway July 26.
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