COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 1, 2011) — Baylor University junior Brittney Griner (Houston, Texas) and the Chicago Sky‘s rookie Courtney Vandersloot (Kent, Wash.), both of whom participated in the USA’s May training camp, have been added to the 2011-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team, it was announced today. The addition of Griner and Vandersloot increases the USA National Team roster, from which the 12-member 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team will be named, to 26. Player selections were made by the five-member USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee.
“Brittney and Courtney fit right in with the rest of the team during our last training camp in Vegas,” said Geno Auriemma , 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “They proved during that training camp that they deserved to be there and I’m glad that the committee has added them to the team. Brittney adds a new dimension to the post play with her size and ability to not only block shots, but she’s a game changer on the inside. She kept getting better and better each day. And I was also impressed by the way Courtney picked up everything quickly. You tell her once and she’s running it. She’s very smart and can do a lot of different things that you need in a point guard.”
“I was overwhelmed,” said Griner. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and be a part of growing up. Now to be named to the team and have a shot at playing on the Olympic team, it was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”
“I was really excited when I found out,” said Vandersloot. “I felt fortunate to even get the opportunity to train with them in May, but once I found out they were adding me to the pool I was really excited. It’s a great opportunity for me to be able to play and learn from some of the best players in the world. I thought maybe later in my career, I would hopefully be given this chance, but I really didn’t think it would be this soon. To even be considered is an honor.”
The 2011 WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year, Griner was also a finalist for the 2011 Naismith Award, Wade Trophy and John R. Wooden Award. The All-American in 2010-11 averaged team-highs of 23.0 ppg. and 7.8 rpg., while also pacing the nation in blocked shots with 170. In leading Baylor to a 34-3 record, the NCAA Elite Eight, and the Big 12 Conference Tournament and regular season crowns, the 6-8 center also collected the Big 12 Player of the Year, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and Big 12 Tournament MVP honors.
“At the training camp, I tried to do everything they would tell me,” added Griner. “I was asking questions, talking to the coaches, trying to go as hard as I could and just compete with them. I talked with some of the players after practice about different things I could do, Candace Parker pulled me aside and was telling me all these different things to work on and I would just try to do the things she told me.”
The No. 3 selection in the 2011 WNBA Draft, Vandersloot is currently averaging (as of games through 7/27/11) 8.3 ppg. and a league seventh-best 4.4 apg. for the Sky. She capped her 2010-11 collegiate season by leading Gonzaga University to the NCAA Elite Eight, the West Coast Conference Tournament and regular season titles and a 31-5 record. Vandersloot earned numerous 2011 All-America accolades, took home the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s top player 5-8 and under, was named the WCC Player of the Year and also was named to the NCAA Tournament All-Spokane Regional Team. In her final year at Gonzaga, the 5-8 guard averaged a double-double of 19.8 ppg. and 10.2 apg.
“I think that my willingness to learn helped a lot,” added Vandersloot. “I went into (the Las Vegas training camp) with an open mind. I wanted to absorb as much as I could. I know that I’m a quick learner and I can adjust really quickly. I think the committee saw a lot of potential in that. Obviously I didn’t outperform any of the players there, but it was just the fact that I worked as hard as I could when I was there and that I wanted to learn as much as I could from all the coaches and players there.”
In addition to Griner and Vandersloot, the 2009-12 USA Basketball Women’s National Team includes:
Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars), Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Alana Beard (Washington Mystics), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Rebekkah Brunson (Minnesota Lynx), Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), Shameka Christon (n/a), Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Atlanta Dream), Ebony Hoffman (Los Angeles Sparks), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun), Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty), Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx).
- Baylor star Brittney Griner impresses at USA Basketball (seattletimes.nwsource.com)