Gamecock Coach Dawn Staley and A’ja Wilson Set for U.S. National Team Training Camp
BY: TYRIA GOINES
COLUMBIA S.C.– Reigning National Champion South Carolina will be well represented at USA Basketball Women’s National Team training camp as head coach Dawn Staley and senior forward A’ja Wilson are set to participate Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Santa Barbara, California. Named the U.S. National Team head coach in March, Staley will oversee the 30 athletes who have accepted an invitation and are available to participate in the camp, which includes Wilson among five current college All-Americans. Invitations were issued by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
The camp will be utilized to help identify and prepare athletes for future USA National Team events, including the 2018 USA World Cup Team, and will mark the USA’s first training camp under Staley’s tenure as head coach. The group at this camp includes 12 Olympic and/or FIBA World Cup gold medalists.
“I’m excited to get things going,” Staley said. “Obviously, it’s been a few months, so I’ve had a lot of time to think about the things we want to run, and I’m looking forward to putting it in motion. I’m pleased that we got this amount of top quality players committed to this training camp.”
Staley is making her debut as the national team head coach after serving two terms as an assistant in 2006-08 and 2014-16. This appointment marks her fourth as a head coach in the USA Basketball system where she helped the organization to gold medals at the 2007 Pan Am Games, the 2014 FIBA U18 America Championship and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship. As an assistant coach, she was part of gold medal teams at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2014 FIBA World Championship and the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a player, Staley helped USA Basketball to a total of 10 gold medals, including three Olympic golds, and seven international invitational titles from 1989-2004.
“I’m honored and blessed to be picked to compete with some of the best in women’s basketball,” Wilson said. “I’m super excited to learn new things and experience things at a high level.”
Wilson is making her fifth appearance with USA Basketball since 2013. Most recently selected to the 2017 Women’s U-23 National Team in July, she was not able to compete at that team’s international event. Each of her previous three teams captured gold, however – 2013 FIBA U-19 World Championship, 2014 FIBA Americas Championship and 2015 FIBA U-19 World Championship. The 6-foot-5 forward was the tournament MVP in 2014 and 2015 and went on to win USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honors in 2015.
In addition to Wilson, the other current college All-Americans who will take part in the camp are: Napheesa Collier (UConn), Asia Durr (Louisville), Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State) and Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn).