LEXINGTON, Ky. (5/7/13) – Kentucky women’s basketball signee Linnae (La-NAY) Harper is one of 34 top athletes in the country age 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1994), who have accepted invitations to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team trials, USA Basketball today announced. Trials to select the 12-member USA squad will be held May 16-19 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (USOTC) in Colorado Springs, Colo. Invitations to the trials were issued by the USA Basketball Junior National Team Committee.
Harper, a 5-foot-8 guard from Chicago and a former teammate of current Wildcat Janee Thompson at Whitney Young High School, is no stranger to USA Basketball. She won gold medals as a member of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team and the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship Team. She also was awarded an honorary bronze medal in the inaugural 2011 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
Harper is ranked as the nation’s No. 5 prospect and No. 2 guard according to ESPN.com, the highest-ranked recruit in UK Hoops history. During her prep career, Harper played for four city championship teams and four Class 4A state-qualifying teams. She led Whitney Young to the 4A Illinois state championship title in 2012 and a third-place finish in Class 4A in 2013. Harper was named to both the McDonald’s All-American team and Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-American team after averaging 19.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2.0 steals per game during her senior season. She was one of five finalists for the Naismith High School Player of the Year award — the only underclassmen to ever be nominated, and was the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year. She also was a three-time Illinois Basketball Coaches Association 3A/4A All-State first team member. Harper chose Kentucky over Tennessee, Miami, Ohio State and UCLA.
“This group has a nice nucleus with some former gold medal winners in the mix and some new candidates that will allow us to field a very competitive team,” said committee chair Jim Foster, who has been a member of nine different USA Basketball coaching staffs.
“I think it’s a fantastic, dynamic, diverse group for international play,” said USA and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. “The committee understands the important parts of what it takes to win internationally. There’s a lot of great and versatile size in this group, some really dynamic players who can do a lot of special things from 20-feet in. This is a really exciting, athletic group who are also very, very skilled. That’s a real sign for the growth of our game throughout the country, that the U19s have this level of skill.
“This is going to be a very competitive trial. We’ve got a lot to play for, and the young ladies who have already won gold have already proven how competitive they are. But, I think there will be another sense of, absolutely, nothing is given. There’s no automatic ‘you’re going to make the team.’ That’s obvious. We don’t even have enough slots for everyone who’s won a gold medal, and then you look at the rest of the talent who’s coming in hungry for their first chance to win gold. We’re going to see a very, very high level of competition and probably some of the best scrimmages we’ve ever seen.”
Six members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that earned the USA its 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship berth are returning to compete for a spot on the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team – as is the coaching staff. Assisting Meier and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University. Additionally, American University head coach Matt Corkery, University of Wisconsin head coach Bobbie Kelsey and University of Tulsa head coach Matilda Mossman will serve as court coaches during the trials.
Accepting invitations to participate in the trials were: Jordan Adams (Southern California / Irvine, Calif.); Candice Agee (Penn State / Victorville, Calif.); Jillian Alleyne (Oregon / Fontana, Calif.); Ameryst Alston (Ohio State / Canton, Ohio); Shacobia Barbee (Georgia / Mufreesboro, Tenn.); Amber Campbell (Northwood Academy / Charleston, S.C.); Oderah Chidom (Bishop O’Dowd H.S. / Oakland, Calif.); Nia Coffey (Hopkins H.S. / Minneapolis, Minn.); Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony’s H.S. / Carson, Calif.); Rebekah Dahlman (Braham Area H.S. / Braham, Minn.); Kaela Davis (Buford H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.); Amber Deane (Dayton / Lathrup Village, Mich.); Lia Galdeira (Washington State / Kamuela, Hawaii); Bashaara Graves (Tennessee / Clarksville, Tenn.); Gabby Green (St. Mary’s College H.S. / Oakland, Calif.); Tiaria Griffin (Georgia / Monticello, Miss.); Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S. / Chicago, Ill.); Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut / Glenn Heights, Texas); Alexis Jones (Duke / Irving, Texas); Brittney Martin (Oklahoma State / Syracuse, Utah); Stephanie Mavunga (Brownsburg H.S. / Indianapolis, Ind.); Xylina McDaniel (North Carolina / Columbia, S.C.); Sydney Moss (Florida / Union, Ky.); Kelsey Plum (La Jolla Country Day / Poway, Calif.); Jordan Reynolds (Central Catholic H.S. / Portland, Ore.); Tyler Scaife (Little Rock Hall H.S. / Little Rock, Ark.); Ieshia Small (Florida State University H.S. / Tallahassee, Fla.); Breanna Stewart (Connecticut / North Syracuse, N.Y.); Brittney Sykes (Syracuse / Newark, N.J.); Morgan Tuck (Connecticut / Bolingbrook, Ill.); Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S. / Pearland, Texas); Courtney Walker (Texas A&M / Edmond, Okla.); Marqu’es Webb (Hoover H.S. / Montgomery, Ala.) and A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S / Hopkins, S.C.).
Stewart is the most experienced USA Basketball alum attending trials. The MVP of the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and member of the five-member 2009 All-FIBA U19 World Championship Tournament Team, Stewart has helped USA squads earn gold at the 2010 U17 and 2011 U19 FIBA World Championships, as well as the 2009 U16 and 2012 U18 FIBA Americas Championships. Further, the 2011 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year was the lone high school athlete on the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team.
In addition to Stewart; Agee, Cooper, Graves, Jefferson and Tuck were members of the 2012 USA U18 National Team that captured the FIBA Americas U18 Championship to secure a berth to this summer’s competition.
Also winning gold for the USA in 2012 were Chidom, Davis, Harper and Turner as members of the 2012 USA U17 World Championship Team; while Davis and Turner earned a second gold medal last summer at the FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship.
Returning from the most recent USA U19 squad that captured gold at the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship are Adams, Jones, Stewart and Tuck.
Davis, Harper and Mavunga teamed up to help the U.S. win gold at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Davis and Harper competed later that summer in the inaugural FIBA 3x3 U18 World Championship and after falling to Italy in overtime of the semifinal with just two healthy players on the court and being forced to forfeit in the bronze medal game due to a lack of players, were awarded an honorary bronze medal by FIBA.
In 2010 Adams, Graves, Stewart and Tuck were members of the gold medal-winning USA U17 World Championship Team; while Jones captured gold that summer at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Adams, Graves and Stewart earned their first gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
In addition to the 13 gold medalists attending the USA U19 trials, 10 athletes have participated in USA Basketball trials previously, including Alson, Coffey, Dahlman, Green, McDaniel, Plum, Reynolds, Scaife, Small and Sykes.
The USA squad, which is on a quest to capture a fifth-consecutive gold medal at the U19 Worlds, will compete in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panevėžys. The team will regroup for training on July 1 at the USOTC prior to traveling to Europe for the competition.
The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19-years-old or younger. While Lithuania earned an automatic berth to the tournament as host, the remaining 15 nations were determined by the five FIBA zone qualifiers in 2012. In addition to the U.S., nations qualified out of the FIBA Americas zone include Brazil (silver medalist), Argentina (bronze medalist) and Canada (fourth place). Senegal (gold medalist) and Mali (silver medalist) will represent FIBA Africa; advancing from FIBA Asia are China (gold medalist), Japan (silver medalist) and South Korea (bronze medalist); Australia took FIBA Oceania’s spot after winning the best-of-three series against New Zealand; while FIBA Europe will be represented by France (gold medalist), Russia (silver medalist), Serbia (bronze medalist), Netherlands (fourth place) and Spain (fifth place).
Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panevėžys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.
The top three finishing teams from each first-round group will advance to the second round, held July 22-24. The 12 nations qualifying for the second round will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with all results of games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second-round standings.
Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the second round will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. The medal round will be played in Klaipeda, with the quarterfinals held on July 26, semifinals slated for July 27 and the gold medal game on July 28.
Current collegiate athletes invited to participate in the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team trials are eligible and may also be considered for the 2013 USA World University Games Team. Trials for both teams will take place in staggered sessions May 16-19. The 2013 World University Games women’s basketball competition is scheduled for July 8-15 in Kazan, Russia.
Information provided by Susan Lax (UK Athletics)
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