USA Basketball announces 16 finalists for Women's World Cup roster

ByMechelle Voepel ESPN logo
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Four players currently competing in the WNBA Finals are among the 16 finalists for the U.S. team that will compete later this month in the FIBA Women's World Cup of Basketball.

Washington's Elena Delle Donne, and Seattle's Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart will be playing in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in Fairfax, Virginia. Bird has won gold medals in four Olympics and three previous World Cups (when that event was still called the World Championships).

Delle Donne and Stewart were both on the 2016 gold medal-winning Olympic team, and Stewart also won gold in the 2014 World Cup.

Delle Donne has been dealing with a bone bruise to her left knee, suffered in the second game of the WNBA semifinals on Aug. 28. She missed Game 3 but returned for the last two games of that series against Atlanta. She's played both games of the WNBA Finals.

She told espnW she's been in contact with U.S. national team director Carol Callan, keeping her updated on how she feels.

"I want to be there," Delle Donne said of participating in the World Cup. "I don't know what I can give. So it's going to be their decision, whether they want me for just games or if they want someone else to go. I think it's just about both of us being honest, open and talking it out."

The other 12 of the 16 finalists are led by Phoenix's Diana Taurasi, who has four Olympic golds and two golds from the World Cup. She and Bird also played on the 2006 team that took bronze in the World Cup.

Mercury teammate Brittney Griner, who's played in one Olympics and one World Cup, also is a finalist, along with New York's Tina Charles (two Olympics, two World Cups) and Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike (one World Cup).

Those finalists hoping to play in the World Cup for the first time are Atlanta's Elizabeth Williams, Connecticut's Layshia Clarendon and Morgan Tuck, Indiana's Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell, and Las Vegas' A'ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum. The lone college player among the 16 finalists is UConn's Napheesa Collier.

The U.S. team is coached by South Carolina's Dawn Staley, a longtime USA Basketball point guard. The U.S. played an intrasquad game in South Carolina on Sept. 5, then beat Canada on Sept. 8 and Japan on Sept 10 in exhibitions.

The Americans have a four-team tune-up event in France on Sept. 15-17. Griner and Taurasi are expected to join the team for that event, while the players currently involved in the WNBA Finals -- if they make the U.S. team -- will join later. Seattle coach Dan Hughes, one of the assistants to Staley, also will join the team at a later date.

USA Basketball will cut down to a final 12-player roster before the World Cup, which runs Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The U.S. will compete in preliminary round Group D vs. Senegal on Sept. 22, China on Sept. 23 and Latvia on Sept. 25.

"The committee has to form a team that can compete at the highest level, and the unit that they selected should help us accomplish that," Staley said in a statement from USA Basketball. "I'm just looking forward to leaving the country and playing some different competition, and continuing to create a bond and build the chemistry that is needed to win the World Cup."