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USA Basketball U18 women’s team ready to defend FIBA Americas title

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The USA U18 women finished their 11-day training camp on Aug. 5, and will begin its quest for a seventh straight FIBA Americas gold medal on Aug. 6. The U.S will open the tournament against Mexico, with tipoff scheduled for 8 p.m. (EDT), in Sports Center I at the U.S.Olympic Training Center in in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

With a few exceptions, U.S. and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley put the team through two-a-days – practicing in the morning and scrimmaging in the evening. The team scrimmaged local volunteers until Canada, Brazil and Chile arrived in the past few days. Then, the USA scrimmaged those teams.

After going a week of two-a-day practices and now getting a chance to scrimmage and play against other teams, we are excited,” said Vanderbilt incoming freshman Paris Kea (Page H.S./Greensboro, N.C.).

Five other incoming college freshman made the final roster including Recee Caldwell (UCLA), Brianna Turner (Notre Dame), A’ja Wilson (South Carolina), Ariel Atkins (Texas) and Mariya Moore (Louisville).

Rising high school seniors Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.), Marina Mabrey (Manasquan H.S./Manasquan, N.J), Teaira McCowan (Brenham H.S./Brenham, Texas), Beatrice Mompremier (Miami H.S./Miami, Fla.), Jessica Shepard (Fremont H.S./Fremont, Neb.) and Destinee Walker (Lake Highland Prep School/Ocoee, Fla.).

Collier (UConn), Mabrey (Notre Dame) and Shephard (Nebraska) have verbally committed to play college basketball. Walker, Mompremier and McCowan are uncomiited. Walker is ranked as the No. 32 prospect in the class of 2015 by ESPN HoopGurlz while McCowan is ranked No. 58 and Mompremier is No. 45.

Joining Staley on the USA U18 team sideline as assistants are University of Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico and University of Louisville head man Jef Walz.

The championship runs Aug. 6-10 with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, El Salvador and Puerto Rico and filling out the rest of the field. The top-four teams will qualify for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship.

The U.S. boasts of a remarkable 43-2 overall record in U18/Junior Qualifiers and have won gold in 1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. The red, white and blue captured silver medals in 1992 and 1996.