USA Basketball revealed the 12 players selected to represent the U.S. at this summer’s Olympic Games. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will be going for their fifth consecutive gold medal, which if achieved will be a historic accomplishment. Sylvia Fowles is on her fourth Olympic team and native New Yorker Tina Charles is making her third Olympic trip. In a first, a Black female head coach will be at the helm as Dawn Staley, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, leads the team.
“Nowadays, we’re hearing a lot of firsts—whether it’s two Black [female] head coaches in the NCAA Final Four or in the SEC Championship,” said Staley, who recently coached a U.S. team of collegiate athletes to victory in the FIBA AmeriCup. “Now, it’s a Black coach being the head coach of an Olympic team. … When it’s history-making, it’s something to be proud of and it also allows other doors to be opened and opportunities for other Black coaches to hold these positions.”
The team will have some Olympic first timers, including reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, who played for Staley at the University of South Carolina, Jewell Loyd, Ariel Atkins, Napheesa Collier, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Chelsea Gray. Staley noted that most of them have had international experience either with USA Basketball or international professional play.
“We just want them to do what they’ve done, and that is when your number is called to perform,” said Staley. “These are highly competitive, motived women who just want to win. What that looks like sometimes is a little different because all of them are their team’s top scorers, top producers. When you come into a setting like USA Basketball…whatever it takes for us to win people have to step up and do or step down and do. You could play a much different role than you play on your WNBA team.”
Rounding out the team are second time Olympians Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart. Training camp takes place in mid-July in Las Vegas. The Olympic team will face off against a team of WNBA All-Stars on July 14. The U.S. team is seeking its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal and ninth overall.
Noticeably absent from the roster is former WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike, who was also left off of the 2016 Olympic team. Ogwumike, who has recently dealt with an injury but is expected to be fine in time for the Olympics, attended many of USA Basketball’s national team training camps.
USA Basketball also named the inaugural Olympic 3×3 team. It will be composed of Stefanie Dolson, Kelsey Plum, Katie Lou Samuelson and Allisha Gray.