NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma women's basketball players Ashley Paris and Courtney Paris are among 17 finalists who began competing Friday for one of 12 spots on USA Basketball's under-20 team.
Tryouts for the team will continue in Costa Mesa, Calif., through Aug. 5. The team will play in the 2006 FIBA Americas U20 Championship, an eight-team event set for Aug. 8-12 in Mexico City.
The announcement of the U.S. roster could come as early as Aug. 1
"The 17 finalists we have returning are all exceptional athletes," said Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie, who will coach the USA Basketball team. "Now what we are looking to do is to get that focus -- especially that defensive focus."
The top three teams from the Mexico City tournament will qualify for the 2007 FIBA U21 Women's World Championship, to be held in Guatemala.
Courtney Paris averaged 21.9 points and 15.0 rebounds last season, becoming the first freshman selected to The Associated Press' first-team All-America list. She led the Sooners to a 31-5 record and the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Ashley Paris averaged 5.9 points and 6.7 rebounds off the bench last season for Oklahoma.
Among the 17 finalists are some with previous USA Basketball experience, including Courtney Paris, Erlana Larkins of North Carolina, Jolene Anderson of Wisconsin and Essence Carson of Rutgers, who all played on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in
last year's FIBA U19 World Championship.
Larkins received honorable mention on the AP All-America team.