The reigning WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces and the WNBA Final MVP Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm are among the 19 players who will attend a training camp for the US women’s basketball team in Columbia February 4-7 , South Carolina.
The Phoenix Mercury Center Brittney Griner should also be in the camp. Griner, who left the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida, on August 22, before the end of the season, won gold with the US team at the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 and 2018 World Championships. She scored in 12 games for the Mercury averaged 17.7 points and 7.5 rebounds before leaving the team for personal reasons. She joined her Russian league team UMMC Ekaterinburg earlier this month and started playing last week.
Four-time Olympic gold medalists Sue Bird from Seattle and Diana Taurasi from Phoenix will not be at camp. 40-year-old Bird and 38-year-old Taurasi took extra caution for health reasons, both said, but both still hope to return to the Summer Games, due to be held from July 23 to August 23. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.
Bird and Taurasi have been vigilant since graduating from college at UConn in 2002 and 2004, and have rarely missed training camps unless they’ve been to the WNBA or EuroLeague playoffs. One or the other or both have been in all but six camps since 2002, according to USA Basketball. Bird has four gold medals at the FIBA Women’s World Basketball Championship and one bronze, while Taurasi has three gold medals at the world championship and one bronze.
The US team is 66-3 at the Olympics and has won six gold medals in a row. This is the US national team’s first training camp since February 2020. Comprehensive COVID-19 protocols are used, including regular testing, and no media or spectators are allowed to participate.
The US national team and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley will oversee the camp, which will be held on the Gamecocks campus. WNBA coaches Dan Hughes (Seattle), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota) and Vickie Johnson (Dallas) are also attending.
“I’m looking forward to returning to the field with the US team,” said Staley. “We have a great mix of seasoned executives and younger players, most of whom know how I train, and I expect we will have four extremely competitive days of practice here in South Carolina. We are missing a few parts of it.” The riddle: we have 36 players in our pool. But it will be incredibly helpful in our preparations for the Tokyo Olympics this summer. “
The other players who will compete in the training camp are Kahleah Copper, Diamond DeShields and Stefanie Dolson (Chicago); Allisha Gray, Arike Ogunbowale and Katie Lou Samuelson (Dallas); Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana); Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray and Sydney Wiese (Los Angeles); Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas); Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier (Minnesota); Jewell Loyd (Seattle); and Ariel Atkins (Washington).
DeShields also left the WNBA bubble early. Due to injury, she was limited to 13 games with Sky in 2020 and did not play overseas this winter.
The camp marks Plum’s return to court. The guard missed this past season after suffering an Achilles tendon rupture, and they haven’t played overseas this off-season.
Copper is not in the national team’s pool, but has been invited to participate in the camp and may be included in the pool in the future.
In addition to Bird and Taurasi, the following athletes are present: Tiffany Hayes and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta); Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut); Seimone Augustus, Chiney Ogwumike and Brittney Sykes (Los Angeles); Kayla McBride and Angel McCoughtry (Las Vegas); Odyssey Sims (Minnesota); Layshia Clarendon and Asia Durr (New York); Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix); Jordin Canada and Morgan Tuck (Seattle); and Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne (Washington) .T