The three girls' basketball players who have been closely considered by ESPN HoopGurlz for the No. 1 ranking among 2013 prospects have accepted invitations to try out for the USA Basketball U17 national team, setting up what could be a final showdown for their class' top rankings.
The three -- current No. 1 Mercedes Russell of Springfield, Ore.; No. 2 Kaela Davis of Buford, Ga., and No. 3 Diamond DeShields of Norcross, Ga. -- will be among 35 players from the 2013 and 2014 classes who will participate in the trials, May 17-19, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The team will defend its 2010 inaugural U17 title in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship, Aug. 17-26, in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Breanna Stewart of North Syracuse, N.Y., the consensus national high school player of the year and most internationally decorated prep girls' basketball player ever, will lead a group of 26 players who will vie for spots on the team that will represent the U.S. at the U18 Americas Championship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-19.
All 12 members of the 2011 USA U16 team, including Davis and Russell, accepted invitations to the U17 trials. The others include Recee' Caldwell of San Antonio, Texas; Jordin Canada of Los Angeles, Calif.; Rebecca Greenwell of Owesnboro, Ky.; Linnae Harper of Chicago, Ill.; Stephanie Mavunga of Brownsburg, Ind.; Erica McCall of Bakersfield, Calif.; Taya Reimer of Indianapolis, Ind.; Jannah Tucker of Randallstown, Md.; Sydney Umeri of Acworth, Ga., and Jatarie White of Charlotte, N.C.
Returning from the 2011 U16 trials are Lindsay Allen of Mitchellville, Md.; Lyneé Belton of Clinton, Md.; Sierra Calhoun of Brooklyn, N.Y.; McKenzie Calvert of Schertz, Texas; Nia Coffey of Minneapolis, Minn.; Kendall Cooper of Carson, Calif.; LaJahna Drummer of Los Angeles, Calif.; Courtney Ekmark of Phoenix, Ariz.; Allisha Gray of Sandersville, Ga.; Gabby Green of Oakland, Calif.; Kianna Holland of Seneca, S.C.; Jessica Jackson of Jacksonville, Ark.; Alexa Middleton of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Jaime Nared of Portland, Ore.; Alyssa Rice of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; Karlie Samuelson of Huntington Beach, Calif.; Brianna Turner of Pearland, Texas, and Jessica Washington of Tulsa, Okla.
Four players -- Oderah Chidom of Oakland, Calif.; Kai James of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Ronni Williams of Daytona Beach, Fla., and A'ja Wilson of Hopkins, S.C. -- are participating in USA trials for the first time.
As the youngest member of the 2011 USA U19 team, DeShields averaged 4.7 points and 2.6 rebounds to help the USA to an 8-1 record and the gold medal in the FIBA U19 World Championship. In 2010, she averaged 9.0 points and 3.4 rebounds to help the U.S. to a gold medal and a 5-0 record in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
Greenwell, who was named co-MVP of the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, led the USA with 15.6 points per game. Russell averaged 11.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 4.0 blocks. Harper averaged team-highs of 3.4 assists and 3.4 steals.
Jill Rankin Schneider from Monterey High School (Lubbock, Texas) will coach the U17 team with assistant coaches Gail Hook of Monarch (Louisville, Colo.) and Letitia Hughley of Mott Community College (Flint, Mich.). The trio helped qualify the USA for the U17 Worlds by virtue of their gold-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
Taking part in the U18 trials, May 19-21 in Colorado Springs, Colo., are Candice Agee of Victorville, Calif.; Lexie Brown of Suwanee, Ga.; Brianna Butler of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Kaelyn Causwell of Duluth, Ga.; Saniya Chong of Ossining, N.Y.; Kahleah Copper of Philadelphia, Pa.; Rebekah Dahlman of Braham, Minn.; Briana Day of Raleigh, N.C.; Bashaara Graves of Clarksville, Tenn.; Moriah Jefferson of Glenn Heights, Texas; Kailee Johnson of Portland, Ore.; Michaela Mabrey of Holmdel, N.J.; Breyana Mason of Woodbridge, Va.; Tess Picknell of Medford, Ore.; Kelsey Plum of Poway, Calif.; Alexis Prince of Maitland, Fla.; Faith Randolph of Derwood, Md.; Tyler Scaife of Little Rock, Ark.; Ieshia Small of Miami, Fla.; Imani Stafford of Los Angeles, Calif.; Stewart; Brittney Sykes of Newark, N.J.; Morgan Tuck of Bolingbrook, Ill.; Shilpa Tummala of Phoenix, Ariz.; Halle Washington of Bossier City, La., and Courtney Williams of Houston, Texas.
University of Miami head coach Katie Meier will serve as head coach of the U18 squad. LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell and Gonzaga head coach Kelly Graves will act as assistants.
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