With just over four weeks to go before the 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony, the 2020 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was unveiled this morning in front of a nationally televised audience on NBC’s TODAY show and features two now five-time Olympians, one four-time Olympian, one three-time Olympian, two who will be competing in their second Olympics and six who will step on the Olympic court for the first time this summer.
Team selections for the six-time defending Olympic gold medalists USA were made by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee and pending approval by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
Headlining the team are longtime USA National Team members Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who each donned a USA Basketball jersey for the first time in 2000 and own a combined eight Olympic and seven FIBA World Cup gold medals, and three-time Olympic gold medalist Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), who also captured gold at the 2010 FIBA World Cup.
Expecting to play in a third Olympic Games is Tina Charles (Washington Mystics), a three-time World Cup gold medalist; while 2016 Olympic gold medalists Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), each of whom have captured at two World Cup gold medals, return to chase a second Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Two athletes who are pursuing their first Olympic gold medal and who already own a FIBA World Cup gold medal are Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces).
Stepping onto the world stage for the first time at a FIBA senior-level five-on-five competition will be Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx), Skylar Diggins-Smith (Phoenix Mercury) and Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces).
“USA Basketball has never been in a better place,” said U.S. Olympic Team head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina), who claimed three gold medals as an athlete and helped guide two more Olympic teams to gold as an assistant coach. “I’m honored to be the coach of such an amazing collection of talented women, both those named to the team and those who gave their all the last few years but won’t be with us in Tokyo. The fact that some of the players who won’t suit up this summer would start for any other country is a testament to their talent and to what USA Basketball has done to build a program that lifts up our female athletes every single day. I’m so proud to be the coach of Team USA and like all of the coaches, support staff, and our players, I can’t wait to make America proud this summer.”
The XXXII Olympic Games women’s basketball competition will be held July 26-Aug. 8 at the Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan.
Additionally, the team includes four athletes who have been named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year a combined nine times. Taurasi leads the list with four (2006, 2010, 2012, 2016), Stewart earned it three times (2011, 2013, 2018) and Charles (2009) and Wilson (2015) also have earned the honor.
All 12 athletes took part in the 2019-20 USA Basketball National Team expanded training program which saw the USA post a 17-1 record, including 5-1 against NCAA Division I teams in exhibition games and 12-0 versus international teams in FIBA-sanctioned competitions.
With their fifth Olympics looming, Bird and Taurasi are poised to join an extremely elite club. Since 1936 when men’s basketball first was officially included on the Olympic program and 1976 when women’s basketball was first played in the Olympics, only six athletes worldwide have competed in five Olympic basketball competitions. In addition to the USA’s Teresa Edwards, who captured four gold medals and one bronze medal from 1984-2000, Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro (2000-16, two silver medals and one bronze medal), Brazil’s Adriana Moisés Pinto (2000-16, one bronze medal) and Oscar Schmidt (1980-96), Australia’s Andrew Gaze (1984-2000) and Puerto Rico’s Teófilo Cruz (1960-76) round out the list.
Additionally, Fowles will join a short list of American basketball players who have competed in at least four Olympics. In addition to Bird, Edwards and Taurasi, USA Basketball four-time Olympians include Carmelo Anthony (2004-2016), Tamika Catchings (2004-2016) and Lisa Leslie (1996-2008).